Kincaid herself is the narrator of this text, discussing the differences between the Antigua she grew up in and the Antigua that exists today. Her character exists as both a young girl, oblivious to the truths of colonialism in her home, and an adult, educated, aware, and critical of the corruption and destructive tourist practices currently troubling her island.
Kincaid directs her writing toward "you," a personification of those who are reading this piece. "You" is characterized as a middle-class white North American or European, the kind of person who would save up to visit Antigua on a holiday and be blissfully ignorant of the troubling state of tourism on the island. This text is meant to make "You" think, and to be accusatory and revelatory at the same time.
The first Prime Minister of Antigua following the island's independence, who, at the time Kincaid wrote this piece, was in power for thirty years with only one five-year term break. He headed an extremely corrupt government, and Kincaid worried that, because he put his sons and other family members in virtually all high-level government positions, Antigua was not as much of a democracy as it wanted to be.
The younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II of England, who makes a state visit to Antigua when Kincaid is a young child. Kincaid remembers the entire island being turned upside down in preparation for her visit, in an attempt to show her a "better" version of Antigua. She later learns that the real reason Princess Margaret visited Antigua was not that she cared about Antiguan people, but rather that she had fallen in love with a married man back at home, so she wanted to escape this bad situation.
The headmistress of a girls' school that operated when Kincaid was a young child in Antigua. She forbade any girls born out of wedlock from enrolling, which effectively prohibited black Antiguans from attending this school and restricted it to the children of white European colonists only.
A doctor Kincaid knew of when she was a child; he made black Antiguans wash dirt off their skin and make sure they did not smell before he would examine them.
The Mill Reef Club Woman
A white woman whose family helped found the Mill Reef Club. She is known for being subtly patronizing and racist towards the black employees who work in her seamstress shop, calling them "girls." She wants to rebuild the old Antiguan library, and Kincaid believes this is primarily because she is motivated by nostalgia for colonial rule.
Minister of Culture
A government official in Antigua who is simultaneously the minister of Education, of Sport, and of Culture. Kincaid does not think he is effective, because any place that needs to designate a "Minister of Culture" is likely a place that has no culture.
Kincaid states that her mother was well-known for being forward with her political opinions, having in the past supported a political party that ran in opposition to the incumbent ruling party. She is not afraid to speak sharply to the Minister of Culture.
The Other Prime Minister
Takes power from V.C. Bird for one five-year term. Antiguans are initially optimistic about his promises for change, but he is soon jailed for dishonesty and corruption and ousted in the next election.
A Small Place Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for A Small Place is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.