The Library on the island of Antigua described in Jamaica Kincaid’s book A Small Place could be a symbol of many different things. It could mean hope, or lack of progress, or it could even be a symbol for the entire nation of Antigua and all the struggles they are facing. Antigua is a country that has been ruined by colonialism and is not in the process of finding a way to repair the legacy that the British left. Similarly, after the earthquake the Library was left in ruins with the books being destroyed and a sign that simply reads “This Building was damaged in the earthquake of 1974. Repairs are pending” (Kincaid 42). The same way that Antigua is forever waiting to repair the damage left by a force beyond their control, the Library is waiting to be restored to its former glory when it was a place of learning and an escape for the residents of the island.
Kincaid uses the issue of the Library to further illustrate the type of situation her people are stuck in. Even something like a library that seems so essential has been left to rot without human intervention or protection. The government and social situation that Kincaid sees on the island relates to this because the essential parts of a fair government are also being ignored and allowed to rot away into nothing. Repairs on the government that has replaced the British are also pending, and until those issues are dealt with and those wounds are healed the Library will continue to be a symbol for the wreckage left in Antigua by the British, and it will never return to the symbol of hope and knowledge that the country needs.