To Kincaid, tourists are revolting creatures who bring a bad atmosphere everywhere they go. She dislikes the moral basics of touristry, an industry based on capitalist roots, trying to exploit and make money off people's native culture. She also despises the physical appearance of tourists, with their pudgy, sweaty figures, and brightly colored clothing that stands out glaringly.
Corruption is a large part of colonization, and Kincaid explores this theme several times throughout the story. However, she also notes how corruption is everywhere in the world once one is aware and actively looking for it. Corruption exists in the government, the tourism industry, and even her own community. A large part of her personal development focuses on coming to terms with this inherent corruption.
Antigua is a naturally beautiful place, with its vibrant, vivid colors, radiant sunlight, and emerald scenery. Through her hatred of tourism, corruption, etc., Kincaid shows the stark contrast between her native country and the inauthenticity of the real world.
Throughout the book, Kincaid laments how the tourists will never truly understand the beauty of the native culture of Antigua, with its rich cultural roots and history. The significance of ordinary objects, such as the Japanese cars, is incomprehensible to the tourists, who would never know the true corruption they symbolize.
Kincaid spends much of this text decrying the practice of colonialism, condemning European nations who thought they could take land that was not theirs and control the native people who live there. Kincaid has seen Antigua during and after colonialism, and she laments both the treatment of native Antiguans under British rule as well as the terrible state Britain left the small island nation in once it finally achieved independence.
Slavery is a heavy theme that permeates the entire text, particularly the later chapters. Kincaid believes that slavery was one of the worst things that ever happened to the world, that slaves were all noble, oppressed victims, and that anyone who has played a role in the machine of slavery is abhorrent. She talks about how the experience of slavery has colored modern Antiguans' perception of themselves and their place in the world, including the way they discuss "emancipation" as if it happened yesterday, not 150 years ago.
The title of this piece is "A Small Place," and the unique experience of people living in a small place like Antigua is a key theme within it. People in a small place view the world in a different way, measuring time by the events that affect everyone and placing great significance on small things. Growing up in a small place is an important part of what shaped the person author Jamaica Kincaid is today.
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.