What is a summary of A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place is a partially autobiographical novel in which she reflects on her childhood experiences in Antigua in the Caribbean due to colonialism and post-colonialism.

She starts her novel reflecting on the tourism industry. She particularly describes tourists as being completely oblivious to their surroundings: oblivious to the extreme poverty, to the dilapidated condition of schools and hospitals, to the fact that there is no sewage system, and to the possibility that what little wealth is present on the island may have been obtained in immoral ways. In her mind, the tourists are hateful because they come to the island with no concern for the welfare of the inhabitants.

She next reflects on how much British colonialism has affected her island, which did not achieve full independence until 1981. She particularly notes that the British love England so much that they try to turn every land in their possession into England, which destroys the land and its native inhabitants. She is especially saddened by the fact that Antiguans do not have their own language.

Moreover, she sees that Antigua is in an even worse condition since it became independent. She sees it as being governed by corruption, which is a major consequence of the enslavement of her people by the British. Though they were freed from slavery, they have never been able to escape the corruption and immorality they were taught by their slave owners and embrace being normal people who cherish a beautiful island.

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