The library in Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place serves as a symbol for a time when Antigua was a better and more enjoyable place to live. The way the author first talks about the library seems to have a sentimentality attached to it. “I stole many books from the library. I didn’t mean to steal the books, really; it’s just that once I had read a book I couldn’t bear to part with it” (Kincaid, 45). This quote illustrates a time for the author when paying a visit to the library was fun, and certainly a highlight of her day. The author has a love for books, so much that she would take the risk of stealing them when she didn’t want to part with them once it came time to return them to the library. When the circumstances in a persons’ life are maybe not as they wish it were, they recall memories of times that they enjoyed very much. I think this is exactly what the author is doing here.
The tone of the essay changed a little in this section; recalling when times were less complicated and when the shape of the library was much better. She talks about “the earthquake” and how the library was essentially destroyed from its former glory. “Repairs are pending, not repaired and the library put back where it used to be?” (Kincaid, 42). Obviously, Kincaid is very upset at the fact that she does not have a suitable library she can visit anymore in Antigua. Again, I believe she is remembering a better time when Antigua was a better and happier place to live (or a time when she was so young that she did not realize that the government was so corrupt) as it is when she was writing the essay.