The “brightest light” is used is a metaphor for solidarity among poor people. Raphael, Rat, and Gardo attempt to recover Senator Zapanta’s hidden fortune by decoding a cryptic letter written by a man named José Angelico, and Angelico tells the boys to look for “the brightest light” at the graveyard if they want to find the fortune. When the boys arrive at the graveyard, they see thousands of poor people with candles streaming in to celebrate the Day of the Dead, generating “the brightest light” for miles around. This is one of many such examples in the novel of impoverished people finding joy in the simple daily rituals and celebrations of their communities. This bright light, as both a literal and metaphorical bright spot amid the grim setting of the graveyard, thus symbolizes how poor people are a similar kind of bright spot for one another amid their suffering. And given the terrible conditions of the society at large, poor people are also “the brightest light” in the city—they are the only hope for leading the city out of moral corruption and into genuine love, compassion, and equality.
The Trash quotes below all refer to the symbol of Brightest Light. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ember edition of Trash published in 2011.).
Part 5: Chapter 1 Quotes
The timeline below shows where the symbol Brightest Light appears in Trash. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 4: Chapter 4
Part 5: Chapter 1
Part 5: Chapter 2
...Gardo finds the Angelico grave. Underneath the words “Maria Angelico, wife of José Angelico,” “the brightest light ” is etched, which makes Raphael shiver. The boys see Pia Dante’s grave stacked on... (full context)