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A ''small place'' is a nonfiction narration about Antigua which is a Caribbean island. It analyzes British colonialism, its effects on the island and the current corruption within the government. The question that the author tackles is whether the postcolonial Antigua is better than that which was colonized by the Britons. The book has many invalid claims. The author describes the feelings of natives towards the many Europeans and Americans who visit Antigua (Bongiorni, Par 2). She plays the mouth of the many former slaves. Her narration is full of anger and the hatred she feels towards the foreigners who visit Antigua. Her voice and the use of present tense, speaking as the second person is uncommon in literature. As the narrator, she takes the privilege of speaking directly to the reader. She has additional room to comment on the issues and things she is analyzing. She is not only telling the story but also painting a picture in the readers mind. Her opinions and their significance are easily relied. Most of her readers are put off because she particularly talks about them. She asks the tourists who are the majority who read contemporary literature to stay at home instead of moving aimlessly from one point to the other.
Jamaica Kincaid 's narrator has used meta fictional discourse in presenting colonial, postcolonial and the neocolonial traditions, thus interrogating tourists views and revealing the thoughts of these visitors in regard to Antigua's identity as a nation. In a tourist mind several questions may arise, is Antigua a tourist destination? Could it be a country recovering from colonialism? Is it a neocolonialist Nation? The narrator explores these questions. He takes the protagonist through a deep perspective of what tourist may be thinking about the nation. He unravels Antigua's nationhood as seen by both the natives and tourists. These revelations however do not do not present the uncorrupted Antigua, instead it provides a conduit through which the narrator and the reader conceives the country. The narrator partially blames the natives for not taking responsibility for their country (Kincaid, p.16). The nation needs to reconstruct itself not in relation to what the tourists paint it to be. The author refers to this as the demythologization of Antigua.
Kincaid speaks resentfully about the corruption in the government .The silence of the natives and their continual submission and sympathy to the colonizers complicates of the position Antigua as a nation. The author is bitter with the English who colonized Antigua and blames the predicament of this small island on them. The colonizers populated the island by bringing in their slaves and educating the slave descendants to admire the very country that made their ancestors slaves. She is also angry with the tourists who come to enjoy themselves in Antigua regardless of the fact that the nation is desperately poor (Kincaid, p.61). The country must rise and move from the judgment of past oppressors. It must also fight against present corruption. The author also blames the corruption that is rampant on the highland on the Britons (Bongiorni, Par 4). The corrupt officials in Antigua learned this vice from the Englishmen who occupied those offices before them. She blames drug dealings, prostitution and sale of the island's land on the colonialists.
The author ambiguously reflects on issues like the nation's formation, the nation's identity, colonialism and economic development in a manner that reader are faced with challenges in understanding Antigua. Since Antigua remains a destination for many travelers, the native who are addressed and the readers find 'A small place, complex and difficult to understand. The voice that speaks to the reader is a literary creation. The 'Jamaica Kincaid' speaking in the narration, as 'I' is a representation of the author. The voice is a character not the author herself. She also addresses the reader as 'you' throughout the narration. She describes the readers as somewhat ignorant since they do not understand Antigua.
They view everything in the lives of native Antiguans as interesting (Kincaid, p.42). Ranging from their personal habits to their clothing, the tourists consider as scenery in the small place. They never give a thought to what the natives are going through nor care about their difficulties. For illustration, the tourist is pleased if it does not rain because his trip is not ruined without realizing that the natives will lack fresh water. In the eyes of the tourist, poverty and the hard labor of the residents is merely a distraction from their boredom. The natives suffering are a source of pleasure for these useless tourists. Thus, behind closed doors the natives laugh at how empty the tourists are. The descriptions in a natives mind for the tourist is that the tourist is silly, ugly, rubbish, wasting time in gazing at anything and everything. The author points out that the glow of tourist's wealth highlights the resident's poverty.
In blaming the Britons, the author adopts a second person style. She creates a character called 'you'. Her anger and condemnation is turned on this one character. ''You will forget your part in the whole setup, the bureaucracy is one of your inventions'' (Kincaid, p.53). The problem in this line of argument is that she denies responsibility for any of these vices. She also exempts the natives from blame. The authors focusing of all the islands problems on another person is rhetoric. The fact that the reader is probably from Europe or North America means that he is the cause of the evils in Antigua. The question that this posse is how an American reader takes responsibility for the actions of Britons several years back.
She makes the reader feel guilty for a situation he did not create. This in turn will push the reader away from the cause of Antigua, which the author is fighting for. She is right to raise the several postcolonial problems that affect Antigua, but blaming the same on her readers is not the right option. The blame game cannot offer any solution. The readers are not guilty of the evils affecting Antigua just as she is also not responsible for the same. The problem of corruption cannot be directly linked to Britain (Bongiorni, Par 7). For illustrations, she mentions that government officials take bribes from industrial facilities. How can Britain be responsible for such vices? The individuals who do such things are the ones who are enriching themselves. Therefore, the corrupt officials are directly responsible for looting from the natives (Bongiorni, Par 6).
Instead of analyzing and illustrating facts about Antigua for outsiders, she reveals the boundaries of her understanding. She insists that in order for the tourists to understand the crime of empire, we must analyze it from post-colonial point of view. The author does not hide the fact that she despises the Britons, hates concepts of democracy and capitalism and do not care about individuals who do. After the illustration in the second paragraph, changes from second person top to that of first person thus raising the conversational tone of the book. The author describes more about Antigua than about herself or the leader. At the end, she moves to the third party voice and begins by asking 'what might it do to people?' Generally, the book acts as a revelation to the many tourists who visit Antigua. It acts as a polite request that they should consider historical culture of the natives of Antigua. They should overlook the angry tone of the author and be sympathetic to the cause she is addressing.