In A Small Place, Knowledge and Power are Codependent

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Knowledge and power are considered two of the most important assets of a society. In the context of Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place knowledge could be defined as a set of proficiencies or expertise attained through experience and education and power as a control of one’s own circumstances. While knowledge and power are individually definable, they do not exist in isolation. Knowledge and power are mutually constitutive to one another. In her aggressive and expository essay, Kincaid successfully demonstrates through the use of several examples, that knowledge, which is a necessary precursor to power, is severely lacking in Antigua, which in turn limits the power Antiguans hold over their own society.

Kincaid begins by pointing out to “you,” a tourist what is missing from Antigua in order to first make clear the reality that knowledge is not existent, valued, or accessible in Antigua. She illustrates “your” arrival, when she notes, “You are a tourist and you have not yet seen a school in Antigua, you have not yet seen the hospital in Antigua, you have not yet seen a public monument in Antigua.” But she abruptly interrupts this thought and continues in sarcastic and marked nonchalance, “what a beautiful island Antigua is—more beautiful than any of the other islands you have seen.” (3) Here, Kincaid demonstrates that knowledge is severely lacking or nonexistent in the land of Antigua by providing examples of physical manifestations of a well educated society that are not present. Knowledge is attained by learning information, data, and facts made available to children through education in schools. Knowledgeable people—educated children who grow up to be educated adults who have completed to several ambitious years of extra...

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...first demonstrates the absence of knowledge by pointing out the absence of schools, hospitals, and monuments; the Antiguans’ ignorance to the importance of using unleaded gasoline; and the inaccessibility of education when the most reputable school is one of Hotel Training. Consequently, as Kincaid illustrates by pointing out that Antiguans do not have control of their own circumstances—not even the stamps they circulate—an absence of education and knowledge hinders realization of power. The relationship between knowledge and power is further solidified as Kincaid discloses that a lack of their own language hinders communication, and no control over access to education further inhibits acquisition of power. These examples Kincaid presents in A Small Place provide solid evidence that knowledge and access to it are necessary antecedents to the achievement of power.
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