A Small Place

by: Jamaica Kincaid

Important Quotations Explained

4. Antigua is a small place. Antigua is a very small place. In Antigua, not only is the event turned into everyday, but the everyday is turned into an event.

Toward the middle of the third section, Kincaid discusses how Antiguans experience the passage of time, and, by extension, how they think of history. Antiguans have a distorted perspective of their lives: small things loom large, and major events are reduced to an “ordinary” occurance. For example, Antiguans think daily about their history as slaves, and they think of emancipation as if it has just occurred. Turning this extraordinary event into an everyday occurrence weakens the uniqueness of the moment and obscures the importance of any subsequent event, such as Antigua’s rampant corruption. At the same time, ordinary events take on an exaggerated importance, such as when two men turn an inconsequential accident into a years-long feud. By repeatedly asserting that Antigua is “a small place,” Kincaid emphasizes the overwhelming physical constraints placed on life by Antigua’s physical environment and positions it as the perfect example of a colonized society. In this sense, Antigua is the ultimate “small place,” and its struggles are like those of all such places as they try to define themselves against the “large” places and forces of the world.