What does Kincaid argue is wrong with how tourists think of natives in A Small Place?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Kincaid is positively scathing of what she sees as tourists' moral and spiritual exploitation of the natives. To a large extent, she argues that this is due to ignorance. All tourists tend to see are the blue skies, palm trees, and sandy beaches. They don't seem to care or even acknowledge that what seems like paradise for them is the source of all kinds of environmental problems for the indigenous folk.

This leads to a widespread attitude among tourists that romanticizes poverty. They look upon the locals' rickety shacks and open latrines as exotic, as these aren't the things that relatively wealthy tourists are ever likely to see at home. The lives of other people, no matter how desperate or impoverished they may be, become just another part of the scenery, along with the blue skies, palm trees, and sandy beaches.

It's as if the natives aren't fully human beings, as if they don't have lives of their own. In the eyes of tourists, they exist simply to provide a dash of local color which enhances the experience of another country or culture. The irony is that this shallow attitude towards natives prevents tourists from really knowing the places they visit in any serious depth.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial