“Every native everywhere lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression, and every deed, good and bad, is an attempt to forget this. Every native would like to find a way out, every native would like a rest, every native would like a tour.” (Kincaid 18)
The library can do this.
The library contains books, yes, but these books are worlds, paths of escape to other places, times, adventures, and people. In short, somewhere far away from where the reader is presently. It is true the old cliché which says that reading books is a way for a person to see the world without going anywhere. It is a place where dreams can begin, ideas are hatched, and inspiration is begun. As a result, reading a book begins to start something in a reader–ideas. Ideas that life in other places can be different, better, and even worse. These ideas not only give a sense of motivation towards greater things, but most importantly they provide comfort in the present situation.
I know all these things to be true, growing up in poverty and blind to how immense the world was in which I lived. I, too, found all these things in our only library and it made a lasting impression on me. Coming back to Antigua and seeing the dilapidated and demoted library, I can imagine how Ms. Kincaid felt: robbed, heartbroken, and ashamed. Her friend, her only “benefactor” (in a sense) was not simply gone, it was reduced in status and ability. I would question that if there was no library, no decent library, how would other children find comfort and inspiration? (Not to mention self-education?) For some, the books on the shelves are their only tour, their only rest, and their only way out.