Simona Barca

A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid uses Commonplace throughout her book in order to expose the system that has been the root of all the corruption in her  country, rather than a single person or persons. In the book she talks about the colonization of Antigua and how the English loved their country so much that they tried to make every place they went to a version of England, but it was never a successful transformation so they hated that new country and its inhabitants as a result. This painted a picture of English people and their empire as a people who were always after the newest, shiniest toy and got bored with it just as quickly. Except this wasn’t an inanimate object they were playing with but people’s lives and entire communities and cultures that they erased simply because they could. This use of Commonplace shows that Kincaid doesn’t blame the English doctor who made them be scrubbed clean before seeing him, or the Irish schoolteacher who told children to stop acting like monkeys that had just jumped out of trees. Rather the fault falls on the system of colonialism, the mentality of expansion, and the constant and historical degradation of black people and the Englishman’s thirst for conquest.

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