A Small Place - Summary | Major English Grade XI

Jamaica Kincaid

A Small Place - Summary | Major English Grade XI

A Small Place

In her essay “A Small Place” Jamaica Kincaid reveals the vast gap between the everyday life of Antiguans and the people who visit the island. In fact, by attacking the tourists, she is also attacking the corrupt government of Antigua.

Antigua, a beautiful and sunny island, is often visited by tourists. A tourist who would visit it would first land on the airport that is named after the Prime Minister. The tourist would easily pass through the customs without being checked while the Antiguans coming after working in other countries with cardboard full of cheap clothes and foods for relatives would be checked completely.

Outside the airport, a brand new Japanese car will be available. But the drivers would try to cheat the tourists. The driver who may even not have his license will drive the car carelessly. The brand new car will make an awful sound because it is filled with leaded petrol. The driver who drives a brand new and highly expensive Japanese car will actually have a very poor house. The government gives loans for cars but not for houses because the two main cars’ dealership is owned by the Ministers of the Government. Schools in Antigua are poorly managed. They look like latrines. Antiguans do not trust the doctors in the hospital of Antigua. Even the Minister of Health and other Ministers go to New York for their check-up. The only library in Antigua had collapsed in the 1974 earthquake, and still, its repair is pending. The American Embassy is taller than the government offices. The house of a merchant whose family came from the Middle East is splendid. When they had come to Antigua 20 years ago they used to sell goods door to door from suitcases carried on their backs. Now they are richer than the government. The house of a smuggler is also very tall and splendid. When the Queen of England came to visit Antigua in 1985, the roads were paved anew to give her false impression that riding in a car in Antigua is a pleasant experience. This indicates the double standard of the government. Another lady Evita is also very rich and powerful because she is the girlfriend of one of the government officials. The food for tourists comes from Miami which was actually grown in some parts of Antigua and was sent to Miami for processing.

The author then says that tourists are an ugly person and local Antiguans hate them. The tourists do not expect rain because it will spoil their holiday in Antigua while the local people want rain. The tourists do not understand the corruption and colonial past of Antigua because they are absorbed in their self-centered pleasures and self-worth. The tourists are unaware that their discarded filths spoil the water of Antigua. Local people do not like the lifestyle of the tourists, their gestures, and their high fashion. The tourists are actually unnoticed by the people. The people feel envy towards them and their riches.

Important Questions:

1. What do the different treatment of customs officials towards tourists and Antiguans suggest?[2057]
Ans. The different treatment of customs officials towards tourists and Antiguans suggests that the government of Antigua is corrupt. This also suggests that poors’ are hated and cheated everywhere, even in their country. The customs do not check the bags of tourists that may contain valuable items like a camera, computers, etc. They check all the luggage of the Antiguans which contains cheap clothes and foods brought to their relatives. This is because it is easier to cheat poor than rich people. The customs officials have a slave mentality. Even after independence, they think whites as their masters.

2. How do the tourists’ expectations differ from those of the local people? [2058]
Ans. Local people expect rain because they are fed up with the heat. While the tourists do not want rain because it will spoil their holidays. Locals want libraries, schools, and hospitals. But the tourists do not want them because they stay there only for a few days. Rather they want beautiful cars, hotels and want to see the ruined monuments. The natives want to see their shores clean and beautiful while the tourists only want pleasure and comfort. They are not worried even if their discarded filth pollutes the environment.

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