"A Small Island" Summary

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In her essay “A Small Island”, Jamaica Kincaid says that even though the people of Antigua are isolated in many ways; they are just human beings like everyone else. She explains that they are not just geographically isolated, but also culturally, economically, historically, and self-isolated. Antigua is located in the Caribbean Islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east-southeast of Puerto Rico. The island is not large at all it is “nine miles wide and twelve miles long [and] it was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493” (150). Kincaid describes the island as being a prison, “everything and everybody that is not inside were locked out” and as a box you’re inside of that suddenly snaps its lid into place (149-150). To Kincaid the island is “unreal”, the sky, the sea, the beach, the colors, and the people. “[Everything] is so beautiful; all of this is not real like any other real thing that there is” (149). Ideally, she isolates the island because she believes that nothing is or can be like Antigua; she separates it from the rest of the world. The island also never really had any native people. The Antiguans are just descendants from the slaves brought in by the Europeans. Because Antigua wasn’t native to anyone, the ones that called themselves “Antiguans” spoke broken English; there was no native language. Antigua has not changed from how it was then to how it is now, “[It has] no industrial revolution, no revolution of any kind, no Age of Anything, no world wars, no decades of turbulence balanced by decades of calm; nothing then, natural or unnatural, to leave a mark on their character” (150). There is no real history behind Antigua and this makes it sort of an outcast when compared to other countries with historical backgrounds and origins. Since Antigua has never changed, the Antiguans continue live in poverty since no real economic

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