Andy Mulligan

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Trash: Part 3: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

In Colva Prison, Olivia is shocked to see a maze of small cages stacked on top of one another like a towering, “oven-hot” warehouse holding emaciated people stinking of urine and sweat. She becomes disoriented and distraught at the sight of children holding smaller children in cages. Surprisingly, the prisoners are polite and cheerful. A haze of hands stretches out toward Olivia, clamoring for water or pesos, amid cries for help. Gardo takes Olivia’s hand to steady her, but she is paralyzed by shock. They pass through to the hospital, where Gabriel Olondriz is being treated. Olivia feels faint and she sobs, asking Gardo why there are children in there. He replies matter-of-factly that poor kids steal for food. Eventually, a weak man supported by guards slowly approaches. He looks at Olivia as if he’s been expecting her.
Through Olivia’s eyes, Mulligan further depicts the abuses that impoverished children face in this society, since many are caged like animals and left to wither in squalid conditions. Gardo’s comment that poor children are often imprisoned shows that when poor children make themselves more visible in society, they are highly vulnerable to such abuse. In other words, “trash boys” like Gardo have no safe place to go: if they stay in Behala they endure filth and poverty, but if they leave they might be rounded up and subjected to the even worse alternative of starving to death in a cage.
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