Study Guide

A Small Place Visions of Antigua

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Visions of Antigua

(when the Queen came, all the roads that she would travel on were paved anew, so that the Queen might have been left with the impression that riding in a car in Antigua was a pleasant experience) (1.3)

Right off the bat, we can see that there are two different Antiguas—one for the wealthy and one for the poor. Like the Queen of freakin' England, the tourist is presented with a neutered version of Antigua, a Disneyfied tour that makes conditions seem better than they actually are.

No very long after The Earthquake Antigua got its independence from Britain, making Antigua a state in its own right, and Antiguans are so proud of this that each year, to mark the day, they go to church and thank God, a British God, for this. (1.3)

British colonialism has left a long-lasting impact on the country of Antigua. Even though the Brits have long since left, Antigua has integrated aspects British culture into their own—for better or worse.

British colonialism has left a long-lasting impact on the country of Antigua. Even though the Brits have long since left, Antigua has integrated aspects British culture into their own—for better or worse.

Kincaid means this in more ways than one. One on hand, the country is now self-ruled and no longer under control of the British, but on the other, she sees a lot of signs that it might not be changing for the better.

Have I given you the impression that the Antigua I grew up in revolved almost completely around England? Well, that was so. I met the world through England, and if the world wanted to meet me it would have to do so through England. (2.3)

It's impossible to separate the history of Antigua from the history of Britain. In fact, when you hear Jamaica Kincaid talk in real life, her accent sits comfortably between Caribbean and British. You don't get much more real than that.

We felt superior to all these people; we thought that perhaps the English among them who behaved this way weren't English at all, for the English were supposed to be civilized. (2.3)

The Antiguan people believed the things that the English said about themselves. Somehow, this only makes Antiguans more endearing to us as readers and the English a bit jerkier.

Is the Antigua I see before me, self-ruled, a worse place than what it was when it was dominated by the bad-minded English and all the bad-minded things they brought with them? (3.1)

Kincaid doesn't pull any punches, even when her own people are on the receiving end. You've got to respect that. Once again, however, we see the legacy of colonialism affecting modern Antigua in a negative way.

The people at the Mill Reef Club love the old Antigua. I love the old Antigua. Without question, we don't have the same old Antigua in mind. (3.1)

After the colonizers left, the people from the Mill Reef Club became the foreigners with the most power in Antigua. They have the power to shape their little slice of the country however they see fit—even if the country's actual citizens disagree.

When Antiguans talk about "The Nation" (and they say "The Nation" without irony), they are referring to the nine-by-twelve-mile-long, drought-ridden island of Antigua. (3.1)

When push comes to shove, this is what Antigua is. Forget about British imperialists, the Mill Reef Club, and Middle Eastern merchants—Antigua is just a small place.

I cannot tell whether I was brought up by […] eternal innocents, or artists […], or lunatics […] or an exquisite combination of all three. (3.5)

Sometimes Antiguans seem too naïve for their own good, sometimes they seem to be working the system with expert precision, and sometimes they just seem to be out of their minds. Kincaid has given up on trying to choose between the three and accepts her people with all their contradictions.

Antigua is beautiful. Antigua is too beautiful. Sometimes the beauty of it seems unreal. (4.1)

It's not the Antiguans' fault that they ended up on an island as beautiful as "The Nation"—in fact, it was the slave trade that brought many of them there in the first place. How were they supposed to know that Antigua would become one of the most sought-after countries in the world?

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