Small Place By Jamaica Kincaid Book Review

Small Place By Jamaica Kincaid Book Review
📌Category: Books, Literature
📌Words: 1072
📌Pages: 4
📌Published: 21 March 2021


“Of the modes of persuasion… there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]” (qtd. in Porter). These insightful words stated by Greek philosopher Aristotle, indicate that the use of ethos, pathos and logos are crucial to persuade an audience. These persuasion techniques are demonstrated in a book titled, A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, who is a prominent Antiguan-American litterateur born in St. John's, capital of Antigua, and is now recognized as a native Caribbean writer of the island (Britannica). Many of her works that deal with requisite issues, have gone on to be successful, including A Small Place. To address the historical context, this book discusses the impacts of colonialism and tourism on the island and its inhabitants, in both the past and present forms. Using ethos, pathos and logos in a thoroughly persuasive manner, Jamaica Kincaid successfully provokes reprehensible feelings and emotions from westerners, creating sympathy for Antigua as a whole. 

Persuasion Techniques in A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

To begin, Kincaid uses ethos to induce sympathy from westerners by appealing to ethics and credibility. In A Small Place, Kincaid describes how the Antigua from her childhood contradicts the Antigua of her adulthood because of the English colonization. An example of this is when Kincaid states, “The Antigua... in which I grew up in, is not the Antigua you, a tourist would see now. That Antigua no longer exists because… people who used to rule over it, the English, no longer do so” (23). Her experience growing up in Antigua not only proves her credibility when talking about the country, but also compares how Antigua has changed from being ruled by the British Empire to now being independent. Furthermore, Kincaid also takes advantage of ethos to evoke sympathy from western readers, by describing how many Antiguans were not as educated as those at the time of colonization due to the lack of their being a library. This is evident when she writes, “Why is the old building that was damaged in the famous earthquake years ago… not repaired? The young librarians cannot find the things they want… because of the bad post-colonial education the young librarians have received” (42-43). As the book proceeds, Kincaid makes it apparent that Antigua was influenced by the western colonies, and as a result, Antiguans were only exposed to the English culture, rather than their own. Substantially, Jamaica Kincaid elaborates on the difference between Antigua then and now, and on the cultural imperialism of the English, inciting sympathy from the west.  

Secondly,  Kincaid also employs pathos which is the appeal to emotions, to elicit sympathy from her targeted audience in the west. This is evident when Kincaid talks about the Antiguans envying tourists who live their lives freely, travel with their money, and turn their boredom into pleasure. This is apparent through, “When the natives see… the tourist, they envy [their] ability to turn their own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for [themself]” (Kincaid 19). This jealousy allows Kincaid to show the westerners that although their behavior was unintentional, the Antiguans felt victimized when the tourists visited Antigua and took advantage of their banality. Another exemplification of pathos is used when she questions the westerners in the context of murdering, kakistocracy, the act of kleptocracy, and colonizing. Kincaid appeals to emotions in order to make the westerners sympathize, as she conveys her feelings towards how the English came to Antigua and began taking things that were not theirs to take. This is illustrated through:

Have you ever wondered… why it is that… people like me… learned from you how to imprison and murder each other, how to govern badly, and how to take wealth of… [Antigua]...? You came. You took things that were not yours, and you did not even, for appearances’ sake, ask first (Kincaid 34-35). This articulates the disgust that the Antiguans have towards the colonizers. Overall, Kincaid’s use of pathos induces the western audience to feel pity for their ancestors actions.  

Finally, Kincaid evokes feelings of sympathy in the westerners through the rhetorical technique of logos which is the appeal to logic based on reasoning. 

This is displayed when Kincaid states that Antiguans cannot distinguish a relationship between slavery and the government of corrupted men - The English. This is confirmed through, “People [Antiguians] cannot see a relationship between their obsession with slavery and emancipation and the fact that they are governed by corrupt men, or that these corrupt men have given their country away to corrupt foreigners” (Kincaid 55). This shows logos as Kincaid logically persuades the western audience into believing that the Antiguans are not able to see the relationship due to the effects of the corruption of the English. Another use of logos, is when Kincaid writes:

A man, a government official was gathering evidence of a financial wrongdoing by the government, was electectruted. His son… was electrocuted too. No one can understand… how an ordinary refrigerator can electrocute someone who opens the door, unless it was fixed to electrocute someone (64). This is a logical statement as a refrigerator door cannot electrocute someone unless it was programmed to do so. This was obviously done by the government, as they were nervous that evidence of their misconduct would be revealed to the public. In the long run, the use of logos has been used effectively and evokes the western audience to feel sympathetic. 


In the final analysis, Jamaica Kincaid effectively uses the rhetorical techniques of ethos, pathos, and logos to make the western audience experience inconsolable feelings and emotions, creating sympathy for Antigua. With ethos, Kincaid manages to illustrate the impact of western colonization on Antiguan’s education system, lifestyle, and mentality. Kincaid also uses pathos to evoke guiltiness and sympathy from the westerners by expressing how their arrival made the Antiguans feel resentment of their liberty. Consequently, the use of logos also evokes sympathy from the westerners, as Kincaid manages to logically state how the corruption of the government has led the Antiguans to change their views of the island. All things considered, A Small Place discusses how colonialism and tourism has led Antigua to become a different country. Not only did colonialism ruin Antigua, but it also changed the natives' living conditions and affected them deerly. In present-day, although colonialism is predominantly less, it is still a powerful practice.

Jamaica Kincaid A Small Place Quotes

1. “For isn't it odd that the only language I have in which to speak of this crime is the language of the criminal who committed the crime?”

2. “Of course, I now see that good behaviour is the proper posture of the weak, of children.”

3. “Do you see the queer thing about people like me? Sometimes we hold your retribution.”

Remember! This is just a sample.

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