The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Texaco is populated by a series of eccentric individuals, most of whom would be considered insane, criminal, or at least marginal by European standards. The focus is on Marie-Sophie’s family, beginning with her grandfather, who as a form of revolt used to poison cattle on the plantation where he worked as a slave, and her grandmother, who was of mixed Indian and African blood, providing a genetic link to the Arawak Indians who inhabited the island before they became extinct as a people.

Esternome, Marie-Sophie’s father, is the second most important character in terms of the amount of space his story takes. After being granted his freedom for having saved his master’s life, he continues to live in poverty and servitude. The role of magic is especially apparent in his life: He is surrounded by spirits, including the zombie of his wife Ninon, who was killed in the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902. Saint Pierre, the city where they lived, was completely destroyed in the eruption, and Esternome moved in with Adrienne Carmélite Lapidaille, a woman of Fort-de-France whom he followed home one day because he knew she would give him some food. Adrienne turns out to be a witch, and she casts a spell over Esternome that is broken only when he makes Adrienne’s blind sister Idoménée pregnant. This is where Marie-Sophie’s story begins.

Marie-Sophie is born some time before World War I, a conflict that unexpectedly brings out...

(The entire section is 537 words.)