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Kincaid - Everett Sheen 1"All blame is a waste of time No...

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Everett Sheen 1 5/11/2009 “All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you.” Jamaica Kincaid had obviously not heard this quote by Wayne Dwyer before writing her essay A Small Place. “From start to finish the piece strikes a single unvarying note of blame and accusation that never advances, never diminishes.”(Gornick, 32) This is how Vivian Gornick describes D.H Lawrence’s essay Do Women Change? in her book The Situation and The Story, and it is pertinent to Kincaid’s essay and why it fails to get the reaction she intended. For an essay to be successful in Gornick’s mind the writer must “know who they are at the moment of writing”(30), they have to know that “they are there to clarify in relation to the subject in hand”(30) Kincaid comes up short in this aspect of her piece. She does not have a clear idea of who she is and how that relates to the issues she wants to address. Kincaid starts of by describing her childhood in colonized Antigua and all the experiences she had, she then moves into her final section where she has completely worked herself into a rant and then accuses everyone who is not Antiguan for the wrong doings of a few. Kincaid’s piece lacks any chance for sympathy and it is this sympathy that creates the dynamic that Gornick feels is necessary to stimulate internal movement within the reader. Jamaica Kincaid’s piece is supposed to be an indictment of the Antiguan government, the tourist industry and Antigua's British colonial legacy; however it is too busy angering the reader to cause any questions to be raised in their mind. Gornick’s analysis of V.S Naipuls essay The Killings in Trinidad parallels my analysis of Kincaid’s piece when she says: “In the essay the principals-all of them, victims and victimizer alike-are presented like bugs under glass: shrunken, pinned, diminished. Naipuls skin crawls with an
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Everett Sheen 2 5/11/2009 untransformed disgust for his own subject. Disgust makes him shrink back. The shrinking attenuates the performance. In the end, the reader only registers the nastiness of the writer’s feelings. He is standing too far back to achieve the right distance: the one necessary for engagement.”(34). Kincaid never fully engages the reader with elaborate descriptions of the characters in the story; instead she chooses just to paint a brief, generalized picture of all the English. As a result of this, we readers are never really afforded the opportunity to form our own opinions of the colonizers. We are only bombarded with Kincaid’s own personal resentment for the English “pigs” as she would call them. Constantly we are reminded of how angry Kincaid is “They were behaving in a bad way like pigs.”(Kincaid 251), “We thought they were un-Christian like”(252), “I cannot tell you how angry it makes me”(252), but never are we put in Kincaid’s place; to feel what it was like to go through these events in her shoes. Because of this the reader feels as if they are looking in on
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