Sparknotes A Small Place

Sparknotes A Small Place - Plot Overview A Small Place is...

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Plot Overview A Small Place is divided into four loosely structured, untitled sections. The first section begins with Kincaid’s narration of the reader’s experiences and thoughts as a hypothetical tourist in Antigua. The reader, through Kincaid’s description, witnesses the great natural beauty of the island, while being sheltered from the harsher realities of the lives of those who must live there. Kincaid weaves into her narrative the sort of information that only an “insider” would know, such as the reason why the majority of the automobiles on the island are poorly running, expensive Japanese cars. Included in her guided tour are brief views of the mansions on the island, mostly gained through corruption or outright criminality. She also mentions the now-dilapidated library, still awaiting repairs after an earthquake ten years earlier. The tour continues at the hotel, and Kincaid concludes the section with a discussion of her view of the moral ugliness of being a tourist. The second section deals with Kincaid’s memories of the “old” Antigua, the colonial possession of Great Britain. Kincaid recalls the casual racism of the times, and the subservience of Antigua to England and, especially, to English culture. She delves briefly into the history of Barclay’s Bank and discusses the Mill Reef Club, an elite, all-white enclave built by wealthy foreigners. She describes and deplores the great hoopla made over the visit of Princess Margaret to the island when Kincaid was a child. Much of the section is concerned with the distortions that colonialism has created in the minds of the Antiguans; Antiguans do not tend to recognize racism as such, says Kincaid, and the bad behavior of individual English people never seems to affect the general reverence for English culture. For Kincaid, the problem is compounded by the fact that the people of Antigua can express themselves only in the language of those who enslaved and oppressed them. She then discusses the connection she sees between the colonial past of the island and its impoverished, corrupt present. The third section, the longest, deals with Antigua’s present and begins with Kincaid asking herself the disturbing question of whether, considering the state of the island today, things weren’t, in fact, better in the old days. As an example, she takes the state of the library, awaiting repairs after all these years and forced to reside in “temporary” quarters above a dry goods store. Kincaid has fond, if ambivalent, feelings toward the old library, which was a haven of beauty and an escape into reading for her as a child. She recalls the imperious ways of the head librarian (who suspected Kincaid, rightly, of stealing books), who is now sadly reduced to campaigning, mostly unsuccessfully, for funds to build a new library, while the collection decomposes in cardboard boxes. The rich members of the Mill Reef Club have the funds to help, but will do so only if the old library is rebuilt—a demand that Kincaid sees as having more to do with nostalgia for the colonial regime than
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This note was uploaded on 06/02/2011 for the course ENGLISH 45B, 001 taught by Professor Altieri during the Fall '11 term at Berkeley.

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Sparknotes A Small Place - Plot Overview A Small Place is...

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