Andy Mulligan

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Trash: Part 4: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Raphael sits down with Gardo to try to decode the Bible by candlelight. They flip to the crucifixion passage that Gabriel Olondriz mentioned. They know the code’s numbers somehow match the text but they can’t figure out how. Midnight strikes—it’s the Day of the Dead. Raphael thinks that José Angelico and Olondriz’s spirits have joined them. Eventually, they realize that the slashes mean to turn a page. They decode the message, which reads: “Go to the map ref where we lay look for the brightest light my child.Rat remembers from school that “map ref” meant they had to find coordinates on the map. Then Gardo remembers that Olondriz’s prisoner number on José Angelico’s letter is wrong. They try that, and it works: the coordinates point to a graveyard. Rat likes how “the trash boys were ahead of the trash police.”
The effort it takes the boys to decode something involving reading exposes how little formal education the boys have. They once again draw strength to battle a challenging task from their strong sense of solidarity with José Angelico and Gabriel Ortiz. Even though both characters are dead, the boys feel as if they are cheering them on from beyond the grave, which bolsters their determination to decode the letter. Though the boys don’t know it yet, the “brightest light” symbolizes the city’s impoverished community as a beacon of hope, while “trash” symbolizes the police, in contrast, as scum. 
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Community, Loyalty, and Solidarity Theme Icon
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