The Library as a Symbol of Decay for the People of Antigua

The library in A Small Place serves as a symbol of continued decay for the people of Antigua. At one time, Kincaid describes how the library was a beautiful place that she would visit often and how she admired the librarian very much; however, after the earthquake, the building housing the library was unable to function safely. Kincaid goes on to say, “…you would see why my heart would break at the dung heap that now passes for a library in Antigua” due to the fact that all of the books and state of the library are being kept in a ruined state.(Kincaid 42). The books are decaying in boxes, as well as the building that the library used to be in. It is interesting to see how the corrupt government of Antigua has not taken interest in repairing the old building that the library was in—this might have been another way they were censoring the types of information that the people of Antigua had access to. Just like the decaying building and books, the overall attitude of the people of Antigua is also slowly decaying as they lose a sense of hope for things to improve in their country. With a corrupt government, the people have a constantly dwindling sense of desires because they know that they are virtually helpless. Just like the decaying library, the people of Antigua see their lives decaying before them. Even in such a beautiful place, the grass isn’t always greener.



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One response to “The Library as a Symbol of Decay for the People of Antigua

  1. aeernst

    While I do feel like the degradation of the library symbolizes something very important and prevalent about Antiguan society, I do not believe the parallel can be drawn out as far out as the entire society. At many points Kincaid makes references to how nothing has really changed since the times of colonialism, the quality of life is not better or worse. There are only two things she really mentions that have gotten worse, and they are the library and the education system. This is very important because the degradation of the education system prevents betterment of the people of Antigua, but the general public’s attitudes have not changed in regards to this; they are still apathetic about the situations that surround them.

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