Language and Racial Identity in Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau

1123 Words5 Pages
Explaining Texaco

Patrick Chamoiseau’s Texaco is a captivating novel that traces the history of Martinique from the time it was a slaveholding French colony to its present status as a part of France. Primarily narrated by the personal stories of Marie-Sophie Laborieux and her father, Esternome, Texaco provides a personal and communal record of the black experience in Martinique that a traditional record of history could not provide. Marie-Sophie’s narrative exposes the book’s main theme: language. The book then presents a dichotomy between the residents of Martinique. On one hand, the French language and government structure represents European beliefs in logic and order while the Creole’s beliefs are largely based on magic, allusion, and cultural traditions. There is also a dichotomy between Mulatto (European) French and Creole French, creating an even more polarizing divide between the island’s white settlers and black inhabitants. The 400 page novel is divided into four sections called Ages: The Age of Straw (1823-1920), The Age of Crate Wood (1903-1945), The Age of Asbestos (1946-1960), and the Age of Concrete (1961-1980). Chronologically, Esternome’s journey resembles the migration of former slaves: from St. Pierre, to working in factories, and finally in the city of Fort-de-France. Additionally, the materials also follow the advancement of the peoples from slavery to functioning civilization, and the materials provide security and solidarity in a place such as Ninon. All in all, the book explores the political importance of language and its relation to racial identity in Martinique through the personal narratives of Chamoiseau’s imagined characters.

Upon initially reading the book, one may not exactly understand the ...

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...n and Reno’s French and West Indian helps bridge the gap between Texaco’s interplay of fact vs. fiction, and further validates the imaginative, historical narrative that Chamoiseau so desires.

Good improvement over last two reviews. I like how you are beginning to move away from summaries and drawing connections between works. I would have still liked to see a clearer argument and less discussion of form (esp. in the first half of the essay) and more of substance. But good progress. We need to review what counts as plagiarism, so let's talk in office hours. B+

Works Cited

Burton, Richard D.E., and Fred Reno. French and West Indian: Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana Today. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia, 1995. Print.

Chamoiseau, Patrick. Texaco. Trans. Rose-Myriam Réjouis and Val Vinokurov. New York: Pantheon, 1997. Print.

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