A Small Place (excerpt)

This study guide will help you analyze an excerpt from the first chapter of the book A Small Place (1988) by Jamaica Kincaid. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Jamaica Kincaid was born Elaine Richardson in 1949. She grew up in Antigua (part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean) when it was still a British colony. She therefore received a British education, until she left at the age of 17 for the USA, where she worked as an au pair. She soon started to write essays, short stories, and novels, and changed her name to Jamaica Kincaid when her first piece of writing was published in 1973. A Small Place is a book-length autobiographical essay that draws on Kincaid’s experiences growing up in Antigua. The essay criticizes the tourist industry, the Antiguan government, and the role of British colonialism in Antigua. The excerpt we cover here comes from the opening pages of the book.

A note on genre

Although A Small Place is generally categorized as a work of non-fiction, we have chosen to analyze this particular excerpt as a short story. We do this because the opening chapter of the book is written as a kind of short story that helps Kincaid present her critical message about both the western tourist industry and Antigua as a nation in a more compelling way that helps draw in her readers. 

However, if you are working with Kincaid’s book as a whole, it may be more useful to choose a method more suited for non-fiction analysis. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide:  


In A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid’s intention is to draw attention to the problematic nature of the tourism industry in Antigua and to criticize the corrupt Antiguan government. By using a sarcastic and ironic tone, Kincaid highlights the ignorant and selfish attitude of white Western tourists. In particular, Kincaid focuses on the...

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A Small Place (excerpt)

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