The Library: A Symbol for the Organization and Education of the Island

While Kincaid was growing up, the library was a place where she felt comfortable and it gave her an opportunity to expand her knowledge. When she goes back to Antigua she notes that the children seem less educated, and the absence of a proper library could be contributing to this. Although the library was there during colonial times, it still provided a sense of organization and structure to the island. The colonists worked to keep a certain sense of structure to the town and brought the library because that is what English cities had. However, once the colonists leave, the island has a hard time giving itself a stable government. Antigua does not know how to form a government that is not corrupt and build a good city because they are not used to functioning independently. The library is one of the many things that fall apart when Antigua becomes independent. Without the library, the chance for citizens to become education and learn about other worldly matters fades. Their inability to learn more about other places in the world keeps them stuck in their corrupted government. Since they know nothing different and have no chance to do learn about other places in the world, they are trapped with what they know. Even when speaking of the tourist, Kincaid speaks of how the people on the island envy the tourist for being able to travel. Being trapped in such a small place doesn’t allow for the people to become educated and make major changes to the government on their island.

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3 responses to “The Library: A Symbol for the Organization and Education of the Island

  1. Sophi

    This is a really great point that I never considered. Though most people would agree that a library stands for “education”, it is the significance of “worldly” knowledge that would most likely help the people of Antigua begin their transformation. In this case, the the transformation of the library first would inspire change in the Antiguan government, whereas others would argue that the people must first change their government to see an improvement in the condition of the library.
    I have to wonder, though, that if reparations to the library were made before governmental changes were implemented, what kind of historical books would be chosen for the library? Granted, books from pre-English rule may have contained very realistic recollections of worldly events, but that is not to say that those same books will be taken from their dusty boxes and placed back where they had once been. With such a manipulative government that Antigua now has ruling over it, one has to wonder if the new library would truly serve its purpose as a way to educate the people of Antigua or only serve the purpose of the government repairing it.

  2. I think it is interesting that you took this point of view of the library, and I rather like it. It is common that the library serves as a symbol for education. I believe the colonists were trying to make Antigua like their homes cities, which had libraries in them. I also think that the installment of the library in Antigua infers that the colonists thought the Antiguans were uneducated, and needed a library in order to “remedy” this problem. It’s a good idea (at least according to the colonists), but as soon as the colonists leave, Antigua essentially starts to fall apart and become corrupt. (Which is also partly signified by the library not being repaired after “the earthquake”).
    I like how you said the Antiguans were “trapped” on their island. In reference to this, I believe the library was really their only source of information about the “outside world”, and how the rest of the world (such as its’ governments) functions. Without this information source, I can imagine that Antigua became less bearable rather quickly.

  3. stperry1

    I also really like the point of view you took on this post. I had not really considered all the types of education that a library can afford its public. The education that the Antiguan people could get from the library could absolutely help with the government they are trying to create. However, as it stands they are still caught in the catch-22 of the government not fixing the library and the fixed library being able to help fix the government. Although this issue still exists, its definitely interesting to look at the library from this perspective.

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