A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

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A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid presents the hypothetical story of a tourist visiting Antigua, the author’s hometown. Kincaid places the reader in the shoes of the tourist, and tells the tourist what he/she would see through his/her travels on the island. She paints a picturesque scene of the tourist’s view of Antigua, but stains the image with details of issues that most tourists overlook: the bad roads, the origin of the so-called native food, the inefficiency of the plumbing systems in resorts, and the glitches in the health care system. Kincaid was an established writer for The New Yorker when she wrote this book, and it can be safely assumed that majority of her readers had, at some point in their lives, been tourists. I have been a tourist so many times before and yet, I had never stopped to consider what happens behind the surface of the countries I visit until I read this essay. Kincaid aims to provoke her readers; her style of writing supports her goal and sets both her and her essay apart. To the reader, it sounds like Kincaid is attacking the beautiful island, pin-pointing the very things that we, as tourists, wish to ignore. No tourist wants to think about faeces from the several tourists in the hotel swimming alongside them in the oceans, nor do they want to think about having accidents and having to deal with the hospital. It seems so natural that a tourist would not consider these, and that is exactly what Kincaid has a problem with.

One of the most important themes running through Kincaid’s essay is the political and economic scene of Antigua. The fact that the airport is named after the President, instead of a school or hospital, shows exactly how vital the role of the airport is in the life of the Antiguans. W...

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...xtent will this essay bring about a change in Antigua? The Antiguan scene can only be modified by the government choosing to run the country in a more manner that will benefit everyone associated with Antigua, especially its natives. The native’s behaviours are related to their jealousy of tourists, and of the tourist’s ability to escape their own hometown to take a vacation. While a tourist can relate to the idea that the exhaustion felt after a vacation comes from dealing with the invisible animosity in the air between the natives and themselves, having this knowledge is almost as good as not having it, because there is nothing that the tourist, or the reader, can really DO about it! If Kincaid’s purpose is solely to make tourists aware of their actions, she has succeeded. If Kincaid’s purpose is to help Antigua, she may not have succeeded to the same magnitude.
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