The Legacy of the Library

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.
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3 responses to “The Legacy of the Library

  1. Samantha Cooke

    I agree, the library could definitely serve as a symbol of Antigua itself. I discussed similar points in my post too. The library is ineffectively run now, just as the current government is. Just as everyone on the island knows and agrees the library is in need of repair, so they also know and agree that the government is in need of repair. But neither will be fixed, not anytime in immediate foreseeable future. The inhabitants have accepted their library, their government, and they just continue to go through life, unhappy but unwilling to change anything.

  2. I completely agree with your post. I had never really thought about the library as a sort of parallel to the government of Antigua but I see now that it can be read in this way. Both the library and the government have been awaiting repairs for a while and the worst part is that that there seems to be no immediate solution to either problem. The government is obviously not going to fix the library and Kincaid mentions that the whites who own the Mill Reef Club could fix it but most likely will not. Equally horrible is the fact that the population of Antigua has been overlooking the destruction of the library and the corruption of the government. They have become complacent with their way of life.

  3. I agree with you and also think the library’s issue is metaphorical of what is going on with Antigua. They are all waiting on restoration just as the library is waiting on its repairs. Both issues are crucial to the people of Antigua because without the library or without the fairness of the government, the island of Antigua has “nothing”. All they are left with is this “great tourist attraction” which by being a citizen of Antigua does not mean much to them. The government seems to ignore their issues and much rather focus on the tourists’ area and keeping it well maintained. As the library, the people of Antigua are not what really matter. This is why the library can be looked at as a symbol or a legacy because without it, there is not much the people can do. They are depending on the library being repaired to promote change on their island.

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