A Connection to the Outside World

The library of Antigua represents the possibility and hope that Antigua may look beyond their little island and see the rest of the world, thus expanding their minds so that they may see the whole of their own nation.  Kincaid mentions how the people of Antigua “cannot give an exact account, a complete account, of themselves”, a quote which contains a structure that is repeated throughout the paragraph to highlight the repetition that the natives face in their lives as they live from event to event (53).  Kincaid also uses the diction in this quote, specifically “exact” and “complete”, to emphasize the limitations that the natives face within their perceptions since they cannot understand the full extent of the horror of their situation.  The people cannot understand that they can change the island for the better because they are so isolated with nothing to strive for and no role models, or even just another country to compare.  The library is the solution to this problem as it acts as a connection to the outside world, where its knowledge allows the populace to understand the corruption in the government that they must fix.  This is demonstrated by how Kincaid is the only one shown repeatedly attending the library and is the only one to understand the problems that the island faces.  The library allows the natives the opportunity to connect with and understand the outside world in order to better their own island, but its treatment as it is neglected underscores the continued level of poverty and ignorance.

 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “A Connection to the Outside World

  1. I really enjoyed your post; I thought it was very creative and intuitive of looking at the library as a symbol of something larger than itself. Your idea of looking at it as a connection to the rest of the outside world was very insightful. This point of view establishes Antigua not just as a separate country, but also as a part of the much larger, and interconnected world. Most societies globally maintain the same goal and purpose to educate its people and to become as knowledgeable as possible. I also liked how you commented on the word choices and the fact that most of the natives do not understand the state their country and thus their lives are held in.

  2. smboehm

    I agree completely with your statements about the possibility of the library being a connection to the outside world; however, it’s hard to see how the library can allow the people to better themselves due to the fact that the government restricts their knowledge and the library is currently deteriorating because the government has not funded it’s repair that was promised ten years ago after the earthquake. The library could symbolize a connection to the outside world, but because of the ridiculous ruling and corrupt government in Antigua, the library, for now, will continue to decay as does the hope of the people there.

  3. I am not sure that the library in Antigua at its present state could be considered a connection to the outside world since it is pending repairs and many of its books are in boxes and can not even be found by the librarians at times. On the contrary, its seems that the library is quite inaccessible to the Antiguans at the present time. And, although the library may offer some connection to the outside world, it is a biased one. Kincaid states in her novel how the library was filled with the stories of the West, the stories of the colonizers, and that it was through this library that she met us in all of our glory.

  4. The interpretation of the library that you made with your blog post is very interesting and specific, and I like it! I hadn’t really thought of it this way until I read your post. All of the things you brought up in your post such as how the Antiguans do not have the knowledge or information to compare their country to brings it all back to the library. The library was brought to the island of Antigua in order to colonize the place, and I think the Antiguans would do everything in their power to resist something that was put there because somebody else thought it should be put their for the Antiguans’ “own good”. The library was later destroyed by an earthquake, and now there is even less of a chance for the Antiguans to learn how the rest of the worlds’ countries work!
    The Antiguans have no idea what life is like outside of Antigua, and I think if more people like Jamaica Kincaid don’t start bringing things like this to their attention; it could be a while before the situation in Antigua starts to improve.

  5. I love how you refer to the library as a connection to the outside world. This analogy is very much true and I do believe that with the library being accessible, the people have a chance to learn, explore, reach out, and seek change to their situation. The government, however, tries to somewhat “outsmart” the people of Antigua by knowing what “power” they can gain from the library so this is why they leave it closed. They rather have a society with people not knowing how or unable to take control of their situation than geniuses who know what is going on in their society and rebelling against them in order to seek change and improve their society. Realisitically, the people of Antigua should know that the government’s “promise” to repair the library will never be fulfilled and they will always live in a society where the government is unfair and rules over them, But since they are unable to make a “connection to the outside world” through the library, they do not see it this way and instead are somewhat “forced” to live in a controlled society with a lack of education/intelligence.

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