Trash

Trash

by

Andy Mulligan

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Trash can help.

Trash: Part 1: Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Gardo explains that Raphael forgot to mention he was so excited that he wanted to go to Central Station straight away until Gardo stopped him. Gardo knows the police will be all over Behala in the morning and it will be suspicious if Raphael wasn’t there. Gardo explains that he needs to look after Raphael, who’s a bit childlike. The next morning, lots of people—even the tiniest kids—turn out to pick over the landfill because the police are paying them to search for the bag. It’s so crowded that the trash slides around dangerously under the crowd. Trash trucks are stopped outside the gates and kids pile into them to get first pick of the new trash. Gardo keeps Raphael in plain sight to avoid drawing suspicion from the police. 
Gardo’s strategic thinking and sense of caution shows his practical intelligence at navigating the real world despite his lack of formal education. Gardo’s description of Raphael suggests that Gardo looks after him like a little brother, demonstrating a strong bond between the two. The dangerous conditions at the landfill hint at how vulnerable people are to injury in this environment, and the sheer magnitude of the crowd demonstrates that the community is so poor that they will endure unsafe conditions out of necessity.
Themes
Childhood, Poverty, and Injustice Theme Icon
Community, Loyalty, and Solidarity Theme Icon
Intelligence, Education, and Street Smarts Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The police instruct the kids to work on the dump trucks coming in from the upscale McKinley neighborhood, where the bag went missing. Rat just sits there and smokes while the other children search. Rat is so grey and filthy that he always blends in with the landfill and so he goes unseen. The other kids are excited because McKinley residents have toilets, meaning the trash had no stupp. Gardo and Raphael start to realize how important this bag is to the police and they both feel frightened—but they hide their fear, pretending to be excited like the others. Raphael is still “more sure than ever” that he doesn’t want to turn in the bag. Meanwhile, somebody finds a handbag and there is a lot of commotion until the police realize that it isn’t the right one.
Mulligan once again emphasizes the filth that children are forced to live in through the fact that Rat blends in with the trash, as well as the other children’s excitement at an opportunity to wade in trash that doesn’t have human excrement (stupp) all over it. Raphael and Gardo’s ability to control their emotions and conceal their find once again shows that they have amassed substantial street smarts from their lived experiences on the landfill.
Themes
Childhood, Poverty, and Injustice Theme Icon
Intelligence, Education, and Street Smarts Theme Icon
The line of trucks waiting to get in is getting longer. Gardo knows the dumpsite is a longshot, as somebody could have grabbed the bag before it even got to Behala. Eventually, the police give up and they pay everyone. That night, there is a festive mood in Behala’s “little neighbourhood” around the cooking fires; some people even have beer. Only Raphael’s auntie is worried. Gardo still thinks it was stupid for her to speak up—the police took her aside and threatened to search her pallet-house.
Gardo’s description of the festive atmosphere in the evening shows how the community rallies together to make life more tolerable by cooking, singing, and making music together. The juxtaposition between the boys’ quick thinking and Raphael’s auntie’s naivety implies that the boys are much sharper than her—they know it's crucial to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
Themes
Community, Loyalty, and Solidarity Theme Icon
Intelligence, Education, and Street Smarts Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Raphael smiles easily and he assures his auntie that there is nothing in the house and nothing to worry about. Raphael’s auntie frets about how much money 10,000 pesos is, and Gardo has to remind her that there is no chance the police will actually pay up. Knowing that Raphael doesn’t think things through so carefully, Gardo begins silently strategizing. Later, the boys reassure themselves that they can investigate the locker and then give up the bag or even just throw it in the dumpsite for somebody else to find. Gardo recalls that they thought they were being smart, but he forgot to factor in one important thing: the police will never let up if they want something from you.
Gardo’s confidence that the police will never pay the reward further hints that the police force is untrustworthy and dangerous. The boys’ strategic plans about what to do with the bag once again expose their aptitude and intelligence, no doubt gathered from a life in which they’ve learned from experience to constantly be on guard for their own safety.
Themes
Corruption, Power, and Theft Theme Icon
Intelligence, Education, and Street Smarts Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Get the entire Trash LitChart as a printable PDF.
Trash PDF