What is the significance of the title of Small Island?
The title, Small Island, identifies both Jamaica and the United Kingdom simultaneously. The lives of the four main characters become intertwined because, as members of the same Commonwealth, they are fighting in a war together. Racial relations are very tense, however, in Second World War England. The title may suggest how cramped the British feel as waves of Caribbean soldiers arrive to help out in the war effort. After the war is over, this cramped feeling persists because some of the Caribbean soldiers decide to settle abroad. Gilbert is one of those soldiers; and Hortense, his roommate/wife, decides to make the permanent move to England with him. Their sometimes unpleasant experiences with the white British citizens is evidence for this reading.