Study Guide

A Small Place Memory and the Past

By Jamaica Kincaid

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Memory and the Past

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it—or repeat a few history classes in college, at the very least. A Small Place offers up a lesson in the cyclical nature of the past, revealing longstanding historical roots to modern problems. Antigua has witnessed more than its fair share of major historical events, creating a very unique sense of memory and the past among the Antiguan people. We don't want to give it all away, but let's just say that their conception of time is about as twisted as Dr. Who's.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why do modern Antiguans have an "obsession" with slavery?
  2. What does Kincaid mean when she says that time moves differently in Antigua?
  3. How does the old library illustrate the way the past shapes the present?
  4. Is Kincaid right to think about the past so much? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Kincaid perfectly illustrates how tiny nations like Antigua have a different relationship with time than large industrialized nations like the U.S.

For Kincaid, the past never goes away—it is always affecting the present, and you can always see its footprints all around.

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