A Small Place Jamaica Kincaid Analysis Essay

If you were stuck on an island with people you despised, how would you feel? For the native islanders of Antigua, this was the case. But for one islander, Jamaica Kincaid, this misery not only became a reality, but also her motive for writing A Small Place. By analyzing her essay through the Psychological, Marxist, and Reader’s Response lenses, Kincaid’s use of language ties together a story of retribution. A Small Place reflects the psychological effects she was left with by colonization, the unfair social structure her homeland is faced with, and the shaping of the way her audience sees her.

Through the use of the Psychological lens, Jamaica Kincaid’s tale of retribution helps demonstrate the trauma that colonialism left her with. It is important to consider her psychological conditions because Kincaid’s isolation and lifestyle tremendously shaped her beliefs. Due to prolonged exposure to colonialism, one of the first things Kincaid experienced was abrogation, which according to Byerman “Is a refusal of the categories of imperial culture and its aesthetic and illusory standards for normal and ‘correct usage,” or the belief that the ways of British culture are wrong (2).

This initial feeling of colonial repeal becomes a very consistent emotion of Kincaid’s, causing her to hate the British, which is heavily emphasized in her writing. Rejecting influence from British culture gives her an opportunity to hold on to the wrongdoings of colonizers, and she claims holding on to retribution is the unsettling thing about her people, which demonstrates how her mindset shaped around a desire to avenge, because she’s decided to not let go of her hatred (Kincaid 27). She wants the colonists to feel guilty.

She wants change, and the language of this disgruntled native does a proficient job of expressing this. She takes her beliefs even further, and uses them to justify the actions of other natives, such as rebellion. According to Kincaid, the reason these rebellions occur is that every native in the world experiences terrible emotions and hopes to justify them with their actions, which is how she’s able to make rebellion sound righteous (18). Not only does she undertake her own psychological issues, she develops a compelling explanation for the actions of her fellow natives.

She uses a powerful mixture of anti-colonialism and her imposed guilt to strengthen her language. Through a Psychological lens, Kincaid’s beliefs become clearly justified by colonial torment, which she takes further to emphasize a desire for vengeance, and eventually tackles the contradictory actions of hopeless natives. Hopelessness spreads even further into the natives’ socioeconomic position, where the Marxist lens sheds light on Kincaid’s message in a political perspective.

The Marxist lens gives insight on her economic background, which is very important to consider because it determines the context of her views in Antiguan society. Antigua’s dark history has always been a power struggle, where “Wealth and power are in the hands of a very few, all of whom, in Kincaid’s perspective, are corrupt,” rather than in a stable system of government (31). The imbalance of power in Antigua helps to demonstrate a series of unfair social classes, which inevitably led natives like Kincaid to fall to the bottom.

Her perspective takes place from a low economic standing, giving it a tone of pleading rather than complaining. If she held a higher position in society, she’d have greater access to much more benefits and opportunities. Therefore, her argument would weaken, because nobody’s going to listen to a rich person complain about their wealth. The fact that Kincaid is aware of socioeconomic issues is phenomenal. One primary issue with the Antiguan government was that it was based on money.

She learned of this issue from a friend who observed that “The government is for sale,” which llowed her to finally enforce her arguments on a target group, the colonial aristocrats who manipulate power, rather than end up complaining without meaning (Kincaid 47). Her belief that all trouble lies in this ruthless group seems irrelevant, considering that Antigua is self-sustaining now. It’s not perfect though, because analysis shows that greed from higher officials has taken a toll on the natives, which causes money to become an imbalanced product of colonial rule (Metzger 1165). With money and power imbalance in mind, Kincaid can finally justify her issue.

Due to this breakthrough, she begins using hostile language, making the aristocratic natives and colonists sound like the worst people in the world. Once applied, the Marxist lens begins to explain Kincaid’s views on socioeconomic status. She takes advantage of her low position, political observations, and violent tone to enforce a direct argument on who she believes is responsible for Antigua’s unfair conditions. Despite Kincaid’s attempts to become a representative for the natives, The Reader’s Response lens causes her attempts to seem more threatening than righteous.

Analysis with this lens shows the emotion she expends into her writing, and how it strengthens her style. The result of her emotional views caused reader Doris Grumbach to claim that her writing “results not so much in stories as it does a state of consciousness,” or that the emotions that Kincaid tries to create have much more of an impact than her logic (Hirsch, Schweitzer 477). she even relies on prompting emotions to distract from logic, because her writing becomes very contradictory at times.

Her ideas of who’s responsible for instability are especially warped in the process, switching between colonists and corrupt natives. Kincaid’s writing style can hold two contradictory ideas together in such a way that they almost don’t interfere (Hirsch, Schweitzer 477). However, it is also her most criticized writing method. Despite the criticism, it gives her an advantage: she can express a plethora of contradictions, and with the proper use of her style, she can sneak past many contrasting statements.

However, like he Psychological and Marxist lenses, Kincaid still believes she has to vindicate for herself, so she begins to criticize the language she writes in: English. Kincaid clearly states her criticism by writing “Isn’t it odd that the only language I have in which to speak of the crime is the language of the criminal? ” (31). This excerpt helps some readers grasp the concept of why she has difficulty accepting English. The issue she’s really trying to justify, however, is to not be shrugged off as bitter by her readers.

If she were considered bitter her essay would lose its relevance. Kincaid’s work, when observed under the Reader’s Response lens, shows readers the amount of emotion she devotes to her ideas, at the cost of her logic, in order to emphasize her viewpoint. Kincaid’s use of language benefits her ideas of retribution, which can be seen clearly under the Psychological, Marxist and Reader’s Response lenses. From all three viewpoints, it’s quite evident she has good intentions, but believes she still has to justify herself to gain respect from her audience.

For Kincaid, writing has not only become a way to practice her talent, but to also deposit her lingering thoughts and emotions, almost like a diary. However, unlike a diary, Kincaid’s language is upheld in such a way that it makes her sound sophisticated and meaningful. This successful combination is how Kincaid is able to spread her beliefs to her readers, and ultimately, allows her to condense a big idea into A Small Place.