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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 317

Texaco is the story of a family history and how the pieces fell apart and then came back together again. The story is written in a mix of French and Creole.

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Marie-Sophie Laborieux is an aging and feisty woman, who is the descendant of a freed—her father, Esternome. The two share an undying determination for freedom and happiness. Both were leaders of their generation. The story is set in the outskirts of Martinique, an overseas French territory known for its slave trade. Esternome is freed prior to the abolition of slavery. His master respects his bravery and offers him his freedom.

Though he is freed, his options are highly limited. He decides to move to Saint Pierre to try out carpentry. He falls in love with Ninon, who was also a former slave. The city of Saint Pierre is under the control of the békés, white Creoles in Martinique. When slavery is officially abolished, Esternome is not the only black person left in chaos.

The story switches over to the life of Marie-Sophie, Esternome’s daughter. She also takes to the city and heads to Fort-de-France. Here, her narrative follows that of Esternome. She finds her first love and takes up many different jobs. Marie-Sophie educates herself by reading everything she can get her hands on. She learns about her people’s history, and this inspires her to become a leader. She becomes a political leader in the small town of Texaco. The descendants of the békés have maintained their families’ wealth over the generations and continue to exploit the black people of the town. Marie-Sophie must fight many battles against the white industry owners in the area, who continually try to steal land. The Urban Planner is a character who comes to civilize the land and determines it unlivable. Marie-Sophie is able to satisfy the Urban Planner and maintain her hometown.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 418

Texaco is an epic narrative that traces the history of the island of Martinique from the time it was a slaveholding French colony to its present status as a part of France under the sway of powerful cultural and economic outside forces. The historical perspective is provided by an account of Marie-Sophie’s family beginning in the 1820’s, well before the French abolition of slavery in 1848, and of her own life, which covers most of the twentieth century.

The novel is presented as a myth. Like the life of Christ, it begins with “The Annunciation,” or the arrival of the Urban Planner who is sent to “rationalize” and “sanitize” (that is, destroy) the slum, which was called “Texaco” because of its proximity to large oil tanks. It ends with “The Resurrection,” in which Chamoiseau tells of his meeting with Marie-Sophie for the first time, of the story...

(The entire section contains 735 words.)

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