The front cover of the book “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid suggests the bright quotation taken from the book review of ‘The New York Times’: “Ms. Kincaid writes with passion … [with] a poet’s understanding of how politics and history, private and public events … blur” (Kincaid unpaged). This statement shows the main feature of the book, due to which the author manages to get the reader’s attention and to make him think about the book. This feature of the book is the beauty of the language of Kincaid and the ugliness of the truth that the author describes. The stylistic elements (addressing the audience in second person, opposition, irony, conditional tense) used by the author help to increase the effectiveness of the text, because they help the reader to understand the message of the book.
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First, the powerful stylistic element of the text is that the author addresses the reader in second person. The very first sentences make an impression of a reader as a bothering tourist: “You may be the sort of tourist who would wonder why a Prime Minister would want an airport named after him” (Kincaid 3). The author’s narration really makes you feel guilty of being a shallow and egoistic incomer into the world of Antigua people. The long sentence that starts with “As your plane descends the land” and ends with “must never cross your mind”, the sentence that covers the whole paragraph, creates the impression of the speech of a tourist, who is interested his own personality only (Kincaid 3-4). This addressing in second person makes us feel like those tourists; if we feel guilty, it means that the author has achieved her aim.
Second, it is necessary to show the concrete examples of stylistic elements that make the text poetic and beautiful. The most impressive one is the stylistic element of the opposition of the notions. The brightest example is the opposition built on the difference between the Mill Reef Club, a place “that was built by some people from North America” and was an expensive elite club, and the library that was “the old building that was damaged in the famous earthquake years ago” (Kincaid 27, 42). The images of the library and the club stand for the poor island of Antigua and the world of invaders. The sign on the door of the library that says, “THIS BUILDING WAS DAMAGED IN THE EARTHQUAKE OF 1974. REPAIRS ARE PENDING” is the example of irony used by the authoress (Kincaid 42). It is evident that “pending” lasts for more than ten years already, and everyone ignores the library that is symbolic for the authoress as it represents the world of the truth, childhood, and beauty for her. One more case of fine irony is Kincaid’s ideas about the Minister of Culture and absence of culture on the island (50).
Jamaica Kincaid often uses conditional tense in the book, especially when she addresses the reader as a tourist: “the Antigua in which I grew up, is not the Antigua you, a tourist, would see now” (Kincaid 23). Using conditional tense the authoress wants to sound objective and to show that the native people of Antigua and the tourists are absolutely different people. The way she sees Antigua differs from the way strangers see it.
In conclusion, it is necessary to mention numerous questions that the authoress asks, for instance: “Do you understand why people like me cannot forgive and cannot forget?” By such questions, the authoress wants to make us think about the problems of Antigua and the main message that she formulates in the essay. I think that it is the bright language and skillful usage of stylistic elements that makes the essay so moving, impressive, and unforgettable. The beauty of the language shows Kincaid’s love of her motherland and beauty of Antigua. Beautiful language also shows the authoress’ pain and desire to make Antigua happy.
Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.