In Texaco, what is "The Age of Crate Wood?"

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Texaco is a 1992 historical novel by Patrick Chamoiseau concerning the history of the island Martinique in the Caribbean, and specifically the titular village of Texaco, named for the oil refinery that would be built nearby. Like other historical novels, it covers a great deal of time, from the 16th century to the 20th century present. The book is divided into sections called Ages, within which technological and cultural advancements can be seen and quantified.

The Age of Crate Wood is the Third Age in the book, detailing the time after the collapse of slavery and the beginning of freedom. "Crate Wood" refers to the discarded crates left on the shores by passenger and cargo ships, broken from their original purposes but still useful. The villagers, building their straw hutches (houses made either from bales of straw or straw and clay bricks) raised them above the water-line on the wooden crates, both ensuring stability and safety from the tide. The use of scavenged wood allowed the hutches to be more secure, making the village more permanent.

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