Lucas Enrique Fernandez

A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid

Vituperation: Colonialism

In the second passage of Jamaica Kincaid’s book The Small Place the past of Antigua, along with the lingering ties of England’s colonialism is explored. This section perfectly expresses the pain and anger caused by this colonialism which may in fact be immeasurable.


They don’t seem to know that this empire business was all wrong and they should, at least, be wearing sackcloth and ashes in token penance of the wrongs committed, the irrevocableness of their bad deeds, for no natural disaster imaginable could equal the harm they did. Actual death might have been better.

Colonialism is a horrible practice that occurred across the globe by many European nations. These nations decided that their own self-interests and greed were more valuable than the lives of the indigenous people of which they stole resources, land, and people. They displaced, raped, enslaved, and oppressed people in order to profit and feel superior to others. Kincaid rightfully says that the people of these empires committed wrongs that were irrevocable in nature and atrocious acts that they should be repenting.

It was built by some people who wanted to live in Antigua and spend all their holidays in Antigua but who seemed not to like Antiguans (black people)

In another portion of the section, Kincaid touches upon a paradox where colonizers want to live in the area of a certain culture and love everything about it, except for the people that live there. In Antigua this is exemplified with a club that would not allow Antiguans inside unless they were servants. An Antiguan being served a sandwich from there was such a big deal that everyone knew the name of the Antiguan and the day of which this transpired. This shows the cruel reality of how many times native people can be on the short-end of the travel industry. People will want to go somewhere but not interact with the people; or people will build an attraction in an area but not open it up to locals or allow them to reap any profits from it.

The only language I have in which to speak of this crime is the language of the criminal who committed the crime

This section from the book highlights a sad consequence of colonialism. Colonialism often causes for people of certain cultures to lose some of themselves, in this case their language, as they are forced to assimilate to the cultures of their colonizers. This is not the only example of this either, a major part of colonialism is the erasure of different people’s cultures. It is a horrifying truth and the pain felt from colonialism has passed down generations, as highlighted by Kincaid.


Ehren Joseph Layne

Hi! I am Antiguan – Response to “A Small Place”

I am proud of my Antiguan roots(Jamacia Kincaid is also a distant relative of mine – small island, everyone is related), yet could not help but feel sorrow while reading Jamaica Kincaid’s “A Small Place” and recounting the history of my mother’s birthplace. I’ve come to accept the fact that all contemporary culture originates from the malevolence of white men; men who would have never accepted the state of being a slave but felt pride in owning one; men who hated being conquered but felt morally justified in conquering; men who protected their families but were willing to destroy others. Devilish, evil, white men, whose reign and terror has forced those terrorized to condole themselves; culture, then, is born from the sympathetic feelings of the oppressed, who use their common horror as a means of social security. In attempting to understand Antiguan history and culture, a single principle must be presumed: we did not ask for this. We didn’t ask to be descendants of slaves. We didn’t ask for a corrupt government. We didn’t ask for the Syrians. We didn’t ask for Americans, Europeans, and – in general – white people. We didn’t ask for this hell, and if you wish to understand my family, my history, and my people, it must be known that we feel great sorrow for the oppressed, for we are them, and we, unfortunately, will never be anything but them. Jamaica Kincaid forced me to take a painful look at Antigua’s history and contemporary culture, both of which are demeaning to Antiguans and are heavily influenced by white men. As much as I agree with Kincaid’s view of Antigua, and appreciate her candor when speaking about our culture and our people, I am – and believe Kincaid is as well – horrified by our reality and often find myself – as Kincaid proclaims – baffled by the unsettling, egotistical nature of oppressors. 

Note: I didn’t really have an agenda while writing this. There’s no underlying plot nor thesis: this piece was really just me venting in a very constrained manner( I could’ve said a lot worse, worse). I had writer’s block trying to construct a piece about something so personal and felt that these were the only words I could say for now.

Phillip Wade Wilson

A Small Place : Vituperation of Colonialism

Throughout the text, I found that colonialism is brought about in the negative light that many times I feel it is overlooked. In my educational career, especially in history and language classes (both foreign and English), the negative impacts of colonial rule are almost always denoted as something much less severe than what it actually was. In her writing, I feel like she explains the numerous ways that colonialism impacted her life, thoughts, as well as political and economic aspects of Antigua as a country. 

What stuck out to me the most is the way in which education in Antigua and in America are similar. As I stated previously there have been numerous times where the awful roles that colonizing powers of the old and new worlds have been downplayed. She explains how this happened to her as well. It made me think about how I have been taught to understand certain concepts about the creation of America and its subsequent ways of continuing to hide its hideous past. She explains that the ways in which history is crafted, by the winners, has seriously damaged the ways in which people all over the world have been and will be able to see themselves. 

To me, I find this extremely concerning not only in this aspect but in the inherent ways that local people are overlooked and not taken into account their full context. As we learned with Iyer, there is a way to escape the tourist gaze in certain ways but we will never truly be able to understand a place or its people without being one ourselves. In Kincaid’s novel, it is clearly evident that this is the case. Even taking a look at the larger picture, outside of her world, the West has always done an excellent job of taking advantage of less fortunate peoples and even industrializing nations as a whole. 

Just look at the lives of the tourists that come to visit Antigua. Ti escape boredom they come to this island nation, yet disregard the hardships the people have to face and look at it with this glamour for the impoverished peoples present. It is quite honestly, sick. I remember on my trip to Belize a few years ago we were on a bus tour going into the mountains and dense forest to cave tube and on the bus ride we passed a very small house a few feet x a few feet and my mother pointed it out and showed it to me. I found it extremely sad that people anywhere in the world have to live like this and I think it instilled me to want to change the world for the better and break the cycle of poverty wealthier nations impose on poorer; however, my mother wanted to take a picture of it because she had never seen something like it before and glamourized the life of the poverty in Belize. And when I explained how it was awful she was taking photos of it she told me I was ungrateful for my “blessed life” rather than seeing how rude it is to pinpoint the less fortunate and photograph them for self-posterity. 

Catherine Dodd Corona

Jamaica Kincaid

Rhetorical Flaws of Jamaica Kincaid

Progymnasmata: Refutation

In no way is Jamaica Kincaid’s anger invalid, untruthful or dramatic, but her emotional blanket statements disvalues her rhetoric in her short story, A Small Place. I would first like to emphasize that her points are truthful and she should be taken seriously. In different places throughout the short story she seems to go on a tangent of rage toward the English or oppressors in general. This pathos in her story is an integral aspect but the frequency of it and the generalizations she makes forces her argument to be erratically emotional which does not give power to her argument. In her conclusion she remarks, “Not too long after, [Antigua] was settled by human rubbish from Europe, who used enslaved but noble and exalted human beings from Africa (all masters of every stripe are rubbish, and all slaves of every stripe noble and exalted; there can be no question about this.)” (p.80) These large blanket statements are not completely true on both the oppressor and oppressed sides. She uses extremely harsh language that juxtaposes her praising language, in a way that does not help her argument. While her anger and harshness is valid it does not help her argument. If you do not believe me think back to an argument you have had. If you discussed your points and communicated your anger how did that differ from screaming blanket and personal statements about the opposer. Even though the personal blanket statements may have truth to them, it does not help one’s rhetoric to carry red hot rage. Overall, it is not about what you are sharing. Kincaid should share her anger, it’s an important aspect of A Small Places’s pathos but it is more about how she shares her rage. 

After class thoughts:

After discussing this and revisiting some other passages I would like to point out where she does a fantastic job of using her rage to be persuasive. Page 32 is a great example when she discusses language. So my entry doesn’t exactly fit a refutation because I missed some areas where she does a great job of using emotion, so I am not exactly arguing against her rhetoric. I will say I remember the parts where she becomes especially erratic and not the parts where she does a good job, like on page 32.  Which does say something about her rhetoric.

Samuel James Conroy

Kincaid Thesis Progymnasmata

Kincaid Thesis Progymnasmata

            Jamaica Kincaid’s book “A Small Place” quite accurately describes the current issues surrounding the travel industry. While certain countries have no issues with tourism, a lot of smaller, less wealthy countries do. Kincaid comes from Antigua and Barbuda, a small Caribbean island country formerly ruled over by the British empire. This is where the issues arise. As is common with many former colonial countries, the colonists still have lingering effects all over the place, and this can be heavily reinforced through tourism. The tourist population in Antigua largely consists of white, wealthy westerners who have no real care for the history of the country or the people inhabiting it, instead, they just wish to get away from their current way of life.

The tourists only see the good things, such as the beautiful water, the beautiful landscape, and of course the beautiful weather. What is not seen, the mass corruption, the hospital with fake doctors that the Antiguan people do not trust, and rising poverty levels. This is why Kincaid states, “The thing you have always suspected about yourself the minute you become a tourist is true: a tourist is an ugly human being” (Kincaid). Kincaid does not mean that these people are bad people, just that when they become a tourist, then they become an ugly human being.

I disagree in that I do not believe these people automatically become bad human beings due to tourism. I would instead argue that they are oblivious and do not really understand the impact they have as a tourist.

Overall, tourism has a negative effect on these once colonial countries as the money made is not helping the common person, but rather supporting corrupt politicians. Kincaid does a great job in explaining this to the world through her writing and hopefully there will be a change soon.


Aongus Mui

A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid

A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid
Progym: Thesis/Theme

Although the meaning of the book applies to tourists and vacation spots all over the world, the setting of this book revolves around the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. More importantly the people and culture that reside on the island. Jamaica Kincaid begins her book seemingly attacking tourists. She speaks a lot about the tourist’s naivety and how they look at travel destinations in a very narrow way. Kincaid talks about how tourists are inconsiderate to locals, she speaks out on the lack of awareness from visitors. They only see the nice places but they do not see or understand issues like poverty and corruption. The tourists are blinded by the beauty promised to them, to the point where the issues seem to go right over their head. Kincaid talks about the unfairness brought upon Antiguans by their government, how they can make loans for cars but not for houses, how the ministers in government can escape to New York for quality health care. “The hospital is staffed with doctors that no actual Antiguans trust,” there is no quality health care for the people that fall ill. This is the type of corruption that the locals of the island have to deal with, but tourists will never realize this because they fail to see the serious issues of their ideal vacation spot. Kincaid argues that islanders see all perspectives of the life they live while tourists only see the sunshine. Although Kincaid started off the book by pointing out the flaws of the tourists, her book was very eye opening. The way that she perceives tourists is very justified, given their misconceptions about vacation destinations all over the world.

Paula I Arraiza

Corrupt Islands

Type of Progym: Commonplace

About two days after Election Day, I continue to feel extremely cynical about my home island’s government. While Kincaid showcased a lovely side to Antigua, she even compares the beauty of the island to “a stage set for a play” (77), I couldn’t help but focus on her criticism about Antigua’s government. Kincaid shows us how corrupt a country can be no matter how small it is, with stories from unrepaired libraries to drug trafficking ministers. Many of her stories resonated with me, since corruption has always been a big topic in my home, Puerto Rico. Kincaid mentions how Antiguans constantly talk negatively about the government, she says that

“For the answer on every Antiguan’s lips to the question ‘What is going on?’ is ‘The government is corrupt. Them are thief, big thief’ (41)

While it may seem exaggerated to blame everything wrong with a place on the government not working correctly, this is the case in many places. I’ve grown up watching government scandals on the news basically every week, to the point where I’m not fazed by them anymore. I heard and continue to hear people complaining about how ineffective the government is from a local level up to a national level. Especially in recent years, the Puerto Rican government has been extremely unproductive and critiqued by everyone.

I could make a list of ways I’ve seen corruption in my country, but it would probably end up being extremely long. Probably the one that stands out, and hurts, the most was having the government hide about ten trailers of provisions sent by the United States to help out citizens after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, which many believe was done in order to make the U.S. look bad. These supplies would’ve quite literally saved people’s lives, yet they refused to do anything for political reasons. Right now, there is extreme controversy in regard to the elections held on Tuesday. Once again, some ballots that were “hidden” were found on Wednesday night, an entire day after the new governor had been announced. These are expected to be around fifty thousand votes that have yet to be counted, which would be crucial since the election was an extremely tight race. On top of that, the newly elected governor had also been named governor back in 2019 after our then-current governor had to resign, due to corruption-related allegations, and was impeached after less than a week.

Things like this certainly happen in other countries, however having to live them so constantly and have it affect my daily life and the lives of those around me definitely makes me feel pessimistic toward the people who hold high positions such as governors, senators, and mayors, as well as what they stand for. It definitely hurts to see the majority of the people on the island continue to support the same parties and officials that are known for being corrupt. It makes it even harder to achieve the change these same people talk about with such passion while being the problem themselves. Watching the election results intensified these feelings I already had, as well as reading about Kincaid’s experience in Antigua, it’s still sad to see people still not working towards a change after everything we have collectively lived through.

Disclaimer: I know there are more important points Kincaid touches on in her book and this has nothing to do with travel at all, but I couldn’t get this out of my mind when it came to writing a response to her (excellent) book.


Samuel E Evans

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

Progym: Chreia

“In the Antigua that I knew, we lived on a street named after an English maritime criminal, Horatio Nelson, and all the other streets around us were named after some other English maritime criminals” (24).

Jamaica Kincaid’s writing in A Small Place provides a brilliantly snarky and firm, though very enlightening, perspective on the post-colonial experience. She describes how during the colonial days Antiguans were taught “good behavior,” meaning submission to an oppressive system, as were other colonial subjects. They were exploited and maltreated, only to be left, stranded, once the colonialists decided they’d had enough of the place. This left the Antiguans, as many others, with only a poor, and continually exploitative framework of a government, and an economy that operated much the same.

Kincaid’s writing serves to provide some contrast to more gentle pieces on the subject, as coming from her firsthand perspective, it packs even more punch. She provides an excellent, gripping analysis of the continual mishandling of her home nation by the government and foreign actors. She describes how tourists and foreigners, arriving by plane and escorted to their seaside hotel palaces, employ a highly selective tourist’s gaze, managing to ignore or even find some sense of quaintness in the island’s troubles. Kincaid strips any tourist or foreigner lens away, providing the most direct and wonderfully sarcastic commentary possible to do so.

In some ways similar to A Small Place, I have previously enjoyed reading Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River. Naipaul’s novel, like A Small Place, is a kind of account of post-colonial Africa, in this case from a fictitious first-person perspective, and set in somewhere in Central Africa. However, Naipaul appears to argue somewhat in the favor of the colonizers, saying that post-colonial Africa descended into a kind of Hell, and largely attributing this to the locals. This could be attributed to the protagonist, Salim, being an Indian-African man who is a foreigner in the land he now finds himself in, though the novel still certainly takes a differing stance overall than Kincaid does.

There are innumerous examples to corroborate Kincaid’s argument, from the struggles of post-colonial India to the division of the Middle East to Russia’s many invasions into and long-lasting subjugation of Central Asia. It seems to be the norm, not the exception, that colonized peoples are left with far less than they started with after their colonizers recede. Also, Kincaid’s description of the foreign exploitation of less developed nation is even easier to point out, especially in our now massively globalized world, as well as our ease at overlooking this fact when we buy Bengali-made clothes or travel to stay in luxury resorts built next to shantytowns across the tropical world.

Kincaid has been massively praised for her writing in A Small Place, and in many other works, and is a professor at Harvard University. Her writing is widely applicable, though is also highly specific and personal to Antigua, and her experience there. This makes it both very moving and memorable, and certainly something to ponder on your next voyage to the pink sand and bottle-blue seas of the Caribbean.