The Antiguan, realistic writer Jamaica Kincaid once said, “I think in many ways the problem that my writing would have with an American reviewer is that Americans find difficulty very hard to take. They are inevitably looking for a happy ending” (BrainyQuote 1). Kincaid is surely not wrong about America and our happy ending; America was founded on the pursuit of happiness. However, Kincaid writes about such interesting topics that a plethora of readers enjoy her content and her fiery tone.
Jamaica Kincaid, occasionally criticized sometimes praised for her aggressive tone towards colonialism ecause she witnessed the repercussions, focused on themes she took from her background in the 1980s and early 1990s which are sometimes discussed today. Although Kincaid despised her home of Antigua, Kincaid talked about her childhood and family in her works even if the book was not autobiographical, and all of her themes she had experienced in her day to day life. Many of Kincaid’s writings were autobiographical even if they did not name her specifically.
Kincaid was born and raised on the small island of Antigua which had a lot of influence on her writings. In Keith Byerman’s article “Anger in a Small Place: Jamaica Kincaid’s Cultural Critique of Antigua” he talks of how much impact Antigua had on her writings. To illustrate, “Jamaica Kincaid’s first three works–At the Bottom of the River (1983), Annie John (1985), and A Small Place (1988)–which are focused life on Antigua, Kincaid’s native island, reflect a deep hostility toward that world” ( Byerman 1). Furthermore, when reading through any of Kincaid’s works, she will often allude to Antigua or talk about it straight out.
Kincaid’s A Small Place is a book written in the econd person point of view talking of what it is like to live in Antigua and her view of the Antiguan government. Although her book is in the second person point of view, much of the book is about her and her own experiences. In Kincaid’s book “A Small Place” she touches on white tourists and how they had no idea of the horrors occurring and of how they know nothing about Antigua (Kincaid 23-24). She also talks of the Antiguan government and how they did not take care of the hospital or the library.
This was a result of colonialism, a theme prevalent throughout many of Kincaid’s writings. Because of colonialism affecting her life in an awful way, Kincaid puts her thoughts on colonialism in a lot of her works. In Byerman’s article he says that in many of Kincaid’s works, she makes no effort to hide her anger towards colonialism and its repercussions (Byerman 1). Kincaid also touches on such topics as racism and social classes in her works. Throughout her works, she will talk of how the high class whites feel they are better than her and the other Antiguans.
She does not usually conceal her feelings but will say exactly what she feels about the whites and the high class. Displaying her feelings on a variety of topics, Kincaid is able to write about the moments and themes she experienced throughout her lifetime. In the 1980s to early 1990s and even before that, colonialism happened more frequently and was much more exploitative because the colonizers had all of the power and only worried about their needs; furthermore, today it has become less frequent but is still a real and new threat, neo- colonialism.
Colonialism was talked of much more and recurrent in the past because those colonized had no say in what occurred and were exploited frequently. At this time, bigger countries colonizing smaller countries happened more often because colonialism was not looked down upon and was seen as helping out the weak. Living on one of the places that was colonized by Britain, Kincaid talked about the struggles and injustices of it. Although during the time of some of Kincaid’s writings, some immigrants in Britain were mistreated because of colonialism.
In the Anthony Cavaluzzi’s article “In Britain, the Spirit of Colonialism Lingers” he notes that the immigrants that escaped to Britain still were not openly accepted. For instance, “Quite imply, most non-whites in Britain today are faced with a choice between governmental relief or taking one of those positions usually reserved for them, such as cleaning public lavatories in an underground station” (Cavaluzzi 1). Therefore, the immigrants were not really able to find a good job and were held back from succeeding, such as in colonized countries.
However, colonialism today is sometimes discussed as neo- colonialism and is less of a threat than it was, but still exists. Kincaid’s view today would most likely be she is happy that it has ended in many areas of the world, however, she would be isappointed to hear colonialism is still happening. As shown, Kincaid’s view towards colonialism is a negative one. Sadly, Africa is still going through a period of colonialism, especially in Ethiopia. In the article “Neo-Colonialism – Its Significance” the author talks of neo-colonialism and its relations to old colonialism.
The text says, “In neo-colonialism, just as in old colonialism, the words reciprocity and equity are irrelevant. In colonialism economic and political domination was carried out using military and administrative powers” (1). The author was aying that just as in the old colonialism, neo-colonialism did not care about those being colonized or being fair towards them. Although colonialism was based much more on personal gain and happened more often in the past, colonialism occurs less now but still is a problem.
While many critics believe Kincaid’s writings had a very aggressive tone, therefore her arguments are invalid, she has received praise because she produces her topics from personal experience, and thus calling her works angry and invalid are inaccurate criticism. Kincaid has received criticism because her writing is very simplistic and has an ggressive tone. In Diane Simmons’ “The Rhythm of Reality in the Works of Jamaica Kincaid” she talks of her anger towards colonialism.
The theme of betrayal, and an increasing anger at having been somehow trapped into turning against oneself, explodes in A Small Place, in which the author revisits her home, the island of Antigua, after an absence of twenty years” (Simmons 4). Some critics praise Kincaid’s writings because of how much her writings are truthful, emotional, and complex. In Mary Snodgrass’s “Jamaica Kincaid: A Literary Companion” she talks of Kincaid’s writing style. She writes, “Kincaid has a knack for turning deceptively simple narrative into a mystic universality” (Snodgrass 253).
Moreover, Snodgrass is trying to say that Kincaid’s writings are simplistic, yet have an undertone of wisdom and universal truths. One of Kincaid’s many goals for her writings was to write so that everyone could understand and interpret the content and the messages contained. Altogether, critics criticize Kincaid because of her aggressive tone, her tone is an essential part of her writing that helps get her point across, which many critics praise her for.
After exploring the many works, themes, and criticisms of Kincaid, she produced all of her themes and most of her works from her own life and experiences during the 1980s and 1990s, but was sometimes criticized or praised for her view on colonialism. Her own quote conveys much of her message of writing not for the pleasure of people, but to write the truth and what she believes is right. Kincaid’s truthful and emotional view on colonialism and the rest of her themes has influenced and taught those who did not know of them prior to appreciate how far our world has come.