Andy Mulligan

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Trash: Part 1: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Rat’s real name is Jun-Jun, but he’s nicknamed Rat because he lives in a trash hole full of rats. After dinner, Raphael and Gardo weave their way through a part of the dumpsite that disgusts them, knee-deep in watery muck and wary of the rats that make the dumpsite move as if it’s alive. Gardo is skittish because of a previous incident where a rat bite severely injured his hand; Raphael fears trash falling and burying him alive, which happened at another dumpsite called Smoky Mountain. The boys quietly call out Rat’s name and they hear a response through the clamor of squeaking, as a gaunt-looking Rat emerges. Raphael wishes he’d brought some food for Rat, who doesn’t get to eat as often as the other dumpsite kids.
Mulligan’s visceral description of Rat’s living quarters once again expose the unimaginably squalid conditions of the dumpsite. Gardo’s rat bite and Raphael’s fear of being buried alive show how traumatized they are by the very real dangers they have experienced, while their disgust suggests that they never quite get used to Behala’s miserable conditions despite having known little else. Meanwhile, Raphael’s empathy for Rat’s hunger demonstrates an undercurrent of solidarity among the boys, as they’re all facing similar struggles of poverty.
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Raphael explains that they need to hide a bag and Rat cheerfully agrees to stash it in his walls, though he warns the Raphael and Gardo that the rats will eat it soon. The boys strategize that they will pretend to find the bag in a few days—that way they can earn wages while pretending to look for it since they are still skeptical about the reward. Rat looks over the map and the identification card, and Gardo worries that they might be getting caught up in a murder case. Rat suddenly breaks into a smile and he convinces Raphael and Gardo to give him 100 pesos because he recognizes the key: it’s from a luggage locker at Central Station, where Rat lived for a year. Rat suggests that they all go there.
Rat’s easy willingness to help Raphael and Gardo further demonstrates a bourgeoning sense of loyalty among the three boys. The boys’ skepticism about the reward indicates once again that the police might not be as trustworthy as one might assume. Rat’s recognition of the key shows that Rat, like the other two boys, is a quick thinker with a sharp memory— he, too, is highly intelligent despite having few resources to educate himself.
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