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A Small Place By Jamaica Kincaid

1375 words - 6 pages

Travel Literature Essay - A Small Place

In the work “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid, she discusses many things she is not happy with: the ignorant tourist, whom she addresses as the reader, Antigua’s corrupt government, the passiveness of the Antiguan people, and the English who colonized Antigua. This work can be discusses as a polemic because of Kincaid’s simplistic diction, and very confrontational tone throughout the book.

From the beginning, Kincaid introduces the tourist, whom she describes as a white middle-class man from either Europe, U.S., or Canada that is traveling to Antigua because he is bored with his life back home and also to pursue a sense of freedom and excitement. Kincaid goes to describe things like the Japanese cars, and the giant mansions that to the tourist would seem picturesque and fascinating, but has a different significance to the local Antiguan people. The tourists take the good weather for granted and is happy it is not raining while they are on vacation, not letting the thought that this good weather is the cause of the lack of fresh water for the Antiguan people cross their minds. On page 10 of the book, Kincaid addresses to the reader, “and so you needn’t let that slightly funny feeling you have from time to time about exploitation, oppression, domination develop into full-fledged unease, discomfort; you could ruin your holiday”. Kincaid’s sarcastic tone is emphasized in this quote to show her feeling of resentment towards the tourist. She feels that the tourist does have an idea of the past history and present difficulties of a place like Antigua, but just chooses to suppress those thoughts so they will not ruin their holiday. The funny feeling Kincaid is referring to is the tourist or reader’s conscience. In saying this, she makes the reader’s concern for an unspoiled vacation just seem selfish and squalid. Furthermore, Kincaid describes the tourist on the beach as “an incredibly unattractive, fat, pastrylike-fleshed man” (p.13), where the physical unattractiveness of the tourist also reflects his moral ugliness. This refers to the way the tourist is spiritually exploiting other, much poorer people for their pleasure. To the tourist, only the good weather and the beauty of the place matters, and the drought caused by the lack of rain is someone’s problem. They even try to romanticize the poverty they see in Antigua, and is fascinated by the open latrines, or the poorly constructed homes of the Antiguan people. The point Kincaid tries to get across is that no matter how sad the way people are living in Antigua, they are only just making up the ‘scenery’ that the ignorant tourists have come to enjoy.

Kincaid is very bitter about the corruption of the government. Throughout the book she makes various references that bluntly describes how corrupt the government of Antigua really is. Right from the start, Kincaid reveals the real significance behind the Japanese cars driven by the people in...

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