Small Island Questions and Answers
by Andrea Levy

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What is the significance of the title of Small Island?

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The title of Small Island is significant both because it refers to the small islands of Britain and Jamaica and because it refers to the fact that small islands don't change the dignity and worth of the people.

The main characters of Small Island come from Jamaica and Britain, both of which are relatively small islands. This affects their perspective of the world; it also changes how they cope with what's going on around them. When Hortense arrives in England, she sees that this new island isn't the hopeful place she thought, for example. It's gray and damaged from war and full of unfriendly people.

Later in the book, it's pointed out that people can retain great dignity, no matter how small their island. This applies to all the characters, even with the racial prejudices they face. It doesn't, however, change their society and the expectations it places on the characters. Ultimately, however, Queenie gives her child, the product of an affair with a black man, to Hortense and Gilbert to...

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