Trash

Trash

by

Andy Mulligan

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

Trash: Part 5: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Of course, Pia Dante isn’t a ghost. She looks weak and smells bad, so the boys decide to clear their heads and get some food, especially for Pia. As Pia starts to eat, however, she became feverish. Rat, who’s been starved before, knows what to do: he feeds Pia water and a chopped-up banana, like baby food. Raphael and Gardo still think Rat saved her life. It turns out that Pia was brought to the area by her host family, who left her there when her father didn’t show up. Some children found her and they took her to a graveyard shack. She’s been waiting for José ever since. The boys pay someone to let Pia sleep nearby and they get her a blanket to shield her from the cool typhoon wind. Rat cries as he tucks her in.
Pia Dante’s story draws attention to the plight of poor children, who are vulnerable to abandonment and starvation in a city that ignores them, like Pia was. At the same time, the kindness of other poor children and the boys’ immediate concern for Pia’s welfare highlight the sense of community and solidarity among the city’s impoverished. Rat once again saves a character’s life with his quick thinking and skills rooted in life experience: he knows exactly how to feed the starving Pia to keep her alive.
Themes
Childhood, Poverty, and Injustice Theme Icon
Community, Loyalty, and Solidarity Theme Icon
Intelligence, Education, and Street Smarts Theme Icon
Gardo buys some brandy because the boys need courage to break open a grave after midnight on the Day of the Dead. They know they will only keep a bit of the money because it isn’t theirs. They go into the graveyard, feeling ghosts all around, and pry open Pia Dante’s grave with a broken knife and a spike. Curiously, there is a coffin but no smell (Behala boys know how dead things smell, even bodies). They haul the coffin down and they pry it open. Sure enough, the money is there. What does $6,000,000 look like? To Raphael, it looks like food, a new life, a future. They know they won’t steal it because of all the things Gabriel Olondriz said. Raphael knows Olondriz is there among the ghosts, arm in arm with José Angelico.
The sense of loyalty among the boys to Gabriel Olondriz’s cause and José Angelico’s actions is palpable: they have no intention of keeping the money because they believe that it belongs to the poor. Raphael’s vision of the money as access to a tolerable life reinforces that Zapanta stole many people’s hope and condemned them to miserable poverty by hoarding money in his vault. The boys’ immediate recognition of the absence of a dead body smell similarly underscores the intolerable squalor that Zapanta’s theft has forced on the poor.  
Themes
Childhood, Poverty, and Injustice Theme Icon
Corruption, Power, and Theft Theme Icon
Community, Loyalty, and Solidarity Theme Icon