Trash

Trash

by

Andy Mulligan

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Trash: Part 2: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Father Juilliard, who’s 63 and runs the Pascal Aguila Mission School on the Behala dumpsite, says that he is the one gathering the accounts of this story together (with names changed). Juilliard loves the school, though it’s almost a futile effort—it’s hard to lure kids to school when they need to scavenge to survive and have so few prospects. Father Juilliard knows Jun (referring to Rat’s real name). The two of them became friends, and Father Juilliard gives Jun bandages and extra meals even though this is forbidden. The school is full of rules, and Father Juilliard thinks rules should be broken once in a while. There’s even a rule demanding silence on the stairs in memory of Pascal Aguila, a “freedom fighter” lawyer for poor people’s rights who was assassinated in a taxi after exposing the corruption of three senators.
Father Juilliard’s feeling of futility in his efforts with the Mission School reinforces this community’s lack of opportunity, since he hints that the children will be stuck on the landfill indefinitely. Mulligan emphasizes the prevalence of child labor in Behala by showing that the children cannot even afford to stop working long enough to go to school for a few hours a day. Meanwhile, Pascal Aguila’s fate reveals that the city is indeed corrupt, and that people who attempt to expose corruption often pay with their lives.
Themes
Childhood, Poverty, and Injustice Theme Icon
Corruption, Power, and Theft Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Father Juilliard explains that the house mother, Sister Olivia, is actually—and foolishly—more involved in Raphael’s tale. One Thursday, a thin and ashy Jun offers to pay if he, Raphael, and Gardo can use the school’s aging computer to research some information for a newspaper quiz. Father Juilliard notices the boys’ bare feet, dirty legs, and strong odor that “fill[s] the room.” He waves the money away and he lets them through. To this day, Father Juilliard is amazed at how intuitively kids handle computers: the boys go straight to a search engine and type a name. Father Juilliard asks Jun if he’s eaten that day (he hasn’t) and so Juilliard fetches some sandwiches. He asks about the quiz, but Gardo just looked serious and Raphael answers in “his own language” which Father Juilliard, ashamedly, barely knows.
Father Juilliard’s sensory description of the children’s pervasive smell and filthy legs helps the reader to visualize the appalling conditions in which Behala’s children are forced to live. Despite the boys’ poverty and lack of education, however, they once again display intuitive intelligence in their ability to navigate a computer so quickly. The boys’ deception with the quiz also displays strategic thinking and perhaps even a pragmatic sense of care for Father Juilliard, since their deception shields him from knowledge that could implicate him in their actions.
Themes
Childhood, Poverty, and Injustice Theme Icon
Intelligence, Education, and Street Smarts Theme Icon
Jun takes a sandwich; his filthy, skeleton-thin hands make Father Juilliard “wince.” Juilliard has grown very fond of Jun, as has Sister Olivia. Olivia wants to adopt Jun, but foreigners usually can’t do so—this saddens Father Juilliard because so many babies “crawl into trash” as soon as they’re able. Father Juilliard will never forget Jun’s amazement at running water and his clean body after he gave Jun his first bath. Once the boys are finished on the computer, Father Juilliard jokes with Jun about coming to class, mentioning incentives like bags of rice. He slips Jun 50 pesos on his way out. Father Juilliard now knows that the boys deceived him “beautifully”—they’d looked up José Angelico and Gabriel Olondriz. Rat is up to something too, which Father Juilliard says Rat will reveal himself. Juilliard never sees the boys again. 
Father Juilliard’s description of Jun’s (meaning Rat’s) emaciated state, Rat’s first bath experience, and the pitiful plight of babies who crawl into trash all emphasize that impoverished children in this area lack access to basic resources or opportunities to improve their lives. Father Juilliard’s surprise at the boys’ deception shows that people often wrongly underestimate the skills and intelligence of those who are poor and uneducated.
Themes
Childhood, Poverty, and Injustice Theme Icon
Intelligence, Education, and Street Smarts Theme Icon