In Jamaica Kincaid’s story, A Small Place, she gives a clear picture of the conditions of living in Antigua. The island is portrayed as a popular tourist destination. However, the author gives a comprehensive overview of the island’s state of welfare. The people on the island lead a miserable life at best. There are no proper facilities such as schools and hospitals on the island. The struggles of Antiguans are given detailed focus by the author. The natives hate tourists because they feel they have invaded their homeland. The poverty, poor living conditions such as blocked sewage flowing into water, old infrastructure. Run down hospitals and unequipped schools.
The significance of ugliness vs. beauty is used by Jamaica Kincaid to bring out the sarcasm and contrast in the situation that Antigua is undergoing. At first sight, any new person arriving to the island such as a tourist, they may think the island is a beautiful place. The author even says that when tourists land onto the island, they usually feel that it is the best destination they have been to until they alight from the plane and head to their hotel rooms. Kincaid says, “You emerge from customs into the hot clean air: immediately you feel cleansed.you feel even more free.” She also says, “in Antigua, there is no proper sewage disposal.” Their opinions may quickly change as they experience the real situation Antiguans live.
Beauty and ugliness are used to portray the views of tourists when they reach the island and when they move around. At the airport, they are of the opinion that Antigua is a great beautiful place. As they move on from the airport to their destination, they start experiencing the contrast. The island turns out to be an ugly place. Despite the nice new cars on the road, it is evident that the people lead a life of suffering and poverty. The hospitals, schools and sewerage systems are in compromising situations because the country’s leaders do not have the public interests in mind. The beautiful cars driven by poor drivers who cannot afford a good house is proof that the Antiguan government is run by greedy politicians. The author mentions that the banks in Antigua are owned by politicians. People are given loans to purchase new Japanese cars of low quality rather than improve their personal welfare of building a good house.
The Japanese cars on the roads of Antigua appear new yet produce strange sounds. The external beauty contrasts the internal poor quality of the car. Some of the cars are made by companies known to produce poor quality cars. Beauty and ugliness are used by the author to show the difference between the first glance and the keen look. The author says, “and the sight of brand new cars driven by people who may or may not have really passed their driving testbanks are encouraged by the government to make loans available for cars, but loans for houses are not easily available.” The author uses beauty to display the life lived by rich people such as politicians and merchants. At the airport, the place is described as beautiful and comfortable. Incidentally, the port is named Bird, after the nation’s prime minister. This brings out a close association between beauty and the rich. There is also a sarcastic mention by the author as to why the prime minister was not named after a school or hospital. It shows that politicians do not want to be associated with ugly or poor things.
Poor and ugly roads are used to show the living conditions of the poor people in Antigua. The beauty of use of beauty and ugliness are used to show the difference between the rich and poor. Buildings owned by politicians and rich people such as business men and drug barons are displayed as beautiful while the residence of ordinary Antiguans are displayed as poor and ugly. Therefore, beauty and ugliness are used to show the plight of native Antiguans.
The tone of the author is sarcastic because she tries to give a comprehensive description of the state Antiguans live. Sarcasm brings out the relationship between the native residents and tourists and politicians. The state of roads, hospitals and roads are described with sarcasm so as portray the gap between the local poor people and the politicians and tourists. She writes, “Will you be comforted to know that the hospital is staffed with doctors that no Antiguan trusts; that Antiguans always despise their doctors.” A sarcastic tone helps the author provide a good descriptive picture of the relationship between tourists and native people. It also helps show the corrupt politicians and the rich people in the Antiguan society.
The tone used when using the word “you” is contemptuous and sad. The author writes the article from a native’s point of view. Antiguans do not like tourists since they view them as people who dominated them and enslaved them. They also view tourists as invaders who have no interest in helping the locals out of their predicaments. Each time the author uses the word “you” to refer to a tourist, she portrays the tourist as a person who does not understand the situation that Antiguans live undergo. The author also assumes that tourists are ignorant; this is why she gives an extra explanation each time she refers to a tourist.
Repetition is used by the author to create emphasis on the Antiguan condition. The author repeats various parts of the story when trying to give a clear explanation for infrastructure conditions and other situations in Antigua. This provides extra information for the tourists who do not understand politics and social life in Antigua. The tone used when using repetition is an informative and emphasizing tone. The author uses repetition for purposes of clarity.
The division between tourists and Antigua is very evident from the story. The first division is one where the natives hate tourists because they feel that tourists invaded and distorted the welfare of locals. Kincaid says, “The native does not like the tourist is not hard to explain. For every native lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression. Every native would like a tour, but they cannot go anywhere because they are too poor.” The first instance is when a tourist is charged highly by a cab driver. The drivers live in poverty and try to extort tourists. Tourists from North America and Europe are thought to be rich. On the other hand, Antigua natives are poor, living in areas where housing is poor. The standards of living in Antigua are very poor. There are poor health facilities, poor housing and bad schools.
Antiguans believe that the west, where Europeans come from, exploited Antigua. The Europeans got their wealth by overusing the labor services of local Antiguans for many generations. Kincaid says, “ you have brought your own books with youone of those books explaining how the west after its conquest and settlement by Europeans got rich by exploiting Antigua’s resources.” The division is between natives and tourists is simply because tourists are almost everywhere and they are there to refresh themselves. Tourists on live in poverty, boredom and banality. They are desperate and depressed making them do things that would help them forgets their frustration. The natives want to experience what the tourists’ experience, but they cannot afford. This bitter reality is the reason why there is a division between natives and tourists. Natives feel envious of the privileges, resources and ability of tourists. They also want to feel the pleasure that tourists feel yet they are unable because they live in poverty.
Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. reprint. West Indies: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.