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Eric Emer 21L.

007 02/25/11

The Contemporary Slave-Masters

An ugly thing, that is what you are when you become a tourist, an ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that, and it will never occur to you that the people who inhabit the place in which you have just paused cannot stand you, that behind their closed doors they laugh at your strangeness (you do not look the way they look); the physical sight of you does not please them; you have bad manners (it is their custom to eat their food with their hands; you try eating their way, you look silly; you try eating the way you always eat, you look silly); they do not like the way you speak (you have an accent); they collapse helpless from laughter, mimicking the way they imagine you must look as you carry out some everyday bodily function. They do not like you. They do not like me! (Kincaid 17)

All masters of every stripe are rubbish, and all slaves are noble and exalted. (Kincaid, 80) Kincaids argument regarding slaves and masters has a neocolonial parallel. The tourist is the new master, and the new cash crop is tourism. Just as Kincaid views the slave-master as human filth, in her opinion, tourists are no different. They seek privilege and advantage from the misfortune of others. Conversely, the natives are forced into a situation where they have no leverage or power to escape, so they still slaves in a different sense. In the above passage of Jamaica Kincaids A Small Place, this is exactly what occurs. Through her tactful employment of language, Kincaid asserts that all tourists exacerbate Antiguas despair with their immorality. The passage is a perfect example of Kincaids expression of the tourists folly. Kincaid iterates how the tourist commits many ignorant actions without regard for the consequences. Kincaids use of language is incredibly specific and remarkably well organized. It requires quite a lot of will, determination, and courage to view oneself from an outsiders perspective. However, given the tourists motivation for visiting the place that they are visiting, they lack these important traits Although the tourist may react to Kincaids argument with disbelief, Kincaid argues that the tourist cannot fully analyze their situation. Kincaids argument on the immorality of tourists places one focus on the idea that tourists are immoral because they wholly lack the capacity for empathy. Kincaids language illustrates this point thoroughly. and it will never occur to you that the people who inhabit the place in which you have just paused cannot stand you (Kincaid, 17) Kincaids style powerfully helps make her point. The use of the personal you, makes the reader (who is presumably a white American or European, also identifiably tourist material) feel as though Kincaid is

addressing them directly. In fact, Kincaids conversational style and future tense are foreboding to the reader, who feels embarrassed by her words. The absolute certainty of her future tense frightens the reader. Kincaid speaks with a strongly condescending tone towards the unfortunate recipient of her complaints. Kincaid purposely tries to incite the reader to become angry with her for coming to such a generalization about an individual she does not personally know. However, this only bolsters her argument that the tourist lacks empathy. The reader lacks the empathetic ability to view the world from Kincaids point of view, and rather than responding with an analysis of multiple perspectives, it seems that they are forced by Kincaid to respond with anger and frustration. The connotation allocated to the word inhabit inadvertently causes the reader to view the natives as animals or some sub-human class. This unintentional downcast further detaches the tourist from the concept of empathy. Kincaid craftily and strategically builds this distance between the reader/tourist and the people of Antigua to watch point being proven whilst arguing it. You do not look the way they lookyou try eating their way, you look silly; you try eating the way you always eat, you look silly (Kincaid, 17) Kincaid utilizes a parallel structure to describe the futility of attempting to empathize with the Antiguans. It indicates that no matter what the tourist does, the result is the same. The antistrophe forcefully conveys Kincaids point, and leaves the reader feeling discouraged and defeated. Additionally, the matter-of-fact tone of this quote once again indicates Kincaids confidence and certainty in her assertion, leaving no room for argument. Kincaid consistently causes the reader distress and pushes them towards the realization of their own lack of empathy. Obviously, there are many cultural differences between native Antiguans and the tourists who venture to the island. However, Kincaid chooses to

describe the most basic human characteristics: physical appearance and eating. If the tourist cannot relate to the natives on such a primitive level, it seems they will be unable to relate to them at all. It is always said that ignorance is bliss. In the case of the tourist, this is the necessary case in order for the tourist to have a thoroughly enjoyable vacation. Kincaids multi-faceted argument also highlights the idea that the tourists immorality stems from their ignorance. The tourist lacks the insight and desire to have their perspective altered, and they lack the desire to learn something on their vacation. An ugly thing, that is what you are when you become a tourist, an ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that, and it will never occur to you (Kincaid, 17) Tourists are ignorant because they view their surroundings from an elevated perspective. They are floating with their eyes above the water of poverty, fear, misery, and hopeless despair. The only way for them to abandon this ignorance would be to ruin their vacation by swimming under to get a glimpse, drowning the prospect of a relaxing vacation. Kincaid attempts to get the tourist to exit their elevated perspective by putting the reader down with insults. The diction choice of the words: ugly, empty, and stupid, illustrate how Kincaid speaks down to the reader. Throughout the quotation, Kincaid does this. She uses a simpler assortment of vocabulary for those sentences when she uses you to address the reader than she does for the remainder of the book. She speaks as though the reader is too unintelligent to understand any more complex use of language. This definitely highlights the readers ignorance immediately. As the insults continue, Kincaid calls the reader a thing, repeatedly to dehumanize the tourist. Kincaid also seems to attempt to incite anger in the reader through her insults. The crass barrage of

contempt, utilizing such insensitive and rage-inducing name calling as ugly, is sure to incite a response in even the most cool-headed recipient. This anger further obfuscates the readers perspective. It causes the reader to be further incapable of processing the harm a tourist commits with their immorality. Kincaid offends the reader, calling them a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that This description makes the reader feel worthless and parasitic. Kincaid portrays the tourist as a worthless being who views their surroundings without actually putting forth any thought. To Kincaid, they are, in fact, a thing, not a human. This is the first of two times in which Kincaid refers to appearances and eating to draw a connection. The way in which tourists view their surroundings and take in the stimuli is in a very passive manner. They do not do much more than a piece of rubbish would do in such a situation. This passive response ultimately represents their ignorance. Once again, Kincaids use of the confident and certain, will never occur to you, works to frustrate the reader, who insists that they are not as ignorant and unreceptive as Kincaid makes them out to be. Kincaid also uses many parenthetical comments in her quotation. She does this in order to further make the reader feel ignorant and unintelligent. She is speaking to the reader like a child, describing the simplest ideas in the simplest terms so that the reader/tourist will understand despite their ignorance. At the end she even says, They do not like you. They do not like me! (Kincaid, 17) This is as though the tourist is so ignorant and unintelligent that they require Kincaid to speak their thoughts for them. She attempts to jump into the readers thoughts, and command control of their minds in order to make a very important idea stick. The tourists typically ignore this fact, so Kincaid must bombard them with it. Kincaid hopes that the knowledge that they are not wanted will keep the tourist away.

When the tourist is cast in this exceptionally disrespected position, they may want to ameliorate their status by hoping to win the favor of others. However, in the opinion of Kincaid, this is not possible. Kincaid insists that the tourists position as a disgusting human being is irreversible. Looking at the entire quotation as a whole, it becomes apparent that in fact the first sentence is an extremely lengthy asyndeton. The reader encounters this sentence, but is so thoroughly angered by each clause of the sentence that it is read in the rambling way in which it is written. It is written as an emotional, bitter rant. Just as the sentence is very difficult to retrace because of its somewhat cluttered structure, the tourists immorality is irreversible no matter how hard they try to fix it. Because of their initial position and intentions, they cannot come down to join the natives and understand their misfortune. they laugh at your strangeness (you do not look the way they look); the physical sight of you does not please them; you have bad mannersthey do not like the way you speak (you have an accent); they collapse helpless from laughter, mimicking the way they imagine you must look as you carry out some everyday bodily function. (Kincaid, 17) The natives differentiate the tourists based on surface characteristics. The tourists cannot change these characteristics about themselves, so they are immutably viewed in such a manner. Appearance is absolutely unalterable, and the natives use it to make fun of the tourists. Such natural things as everyday bodily functions should not be a grounds with which to draw humorous distinctions between individuals. But, the fact that the Antiguans utilize this distinction as well further isolates the tourist. The reader may feel that, in fact, it is the Antiguans who are the rude ones. After all they seem to be picking on the reader for no reason other than being a tourist. However, as stated in the introduction, tourists are innately evil to Kincaid. Kincaids

description of the natives reaction offers what seems like an unnecessarily exorbitant response. They laugh, collapse helpless from laughter, and mimic. Something that elicits such a strong response is clearly unchangeable. Lastly, Kincaid says, They do not like you. They do not like me! (Kincaid, 17) She emphasizes this point by saying it twice. This forceful statement consolidates the fact that the natives will forever despise the tourist, and any attempt to change this dynamic will be futile. In conclusion, Kincaid has no sympathy for the tourist. In her opinion the tourist perpetuates the subjugation of the natives of Antigua. Though the era of slavery is over, the tourist is almost as immoral as the slave-master. But why make this argument about the immorality of tourists if there is no recourse that they can take to alter it? Kincaid hopes that rather than attempt to be a better tourist; tourists will simply cease to be tourists. Once this occurs, Antigua will perhaps finally be able to proceed beyond its colonial mold and become self-sufficient.