Trash by Andy Mulligan Essay Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 25 September 2016

Trash by Andy Mulligan Essay

Trash, written by Andy Mulligan is a novel set in an unnamed third world country. Three dumpsite boys discover a wallet containing a note, key, 11,00 pesos and an ID card in Belhala Dump while trash picking. They soon find themselves running from the police, cracking codes, investigating clues, experiencing an interrogation and even shopping in the hope of righting a terrible wrong. Through an analysis of characterisation, point of view, reader positioning and setting we can see the main themes/ideas presented in “Trash” are; friendship, corruption, disparity in wealth and poverty.


In the novel the author uses setting and characterisation to examine the idea/theme of poverty. On page Pg3 there is a brilliant quote from Raphael referring to Belhala, to support the theme. “Most people live in boxes stacked tall and high.” Using this quote we can infer that most residence of Belhala live in boxes, stacked up on top of each other. Therefore they mustn’t have enough funds or money to afford a suitable house to sojourn in. This is an excellent example of the theme of poverty. Using setting once again we can observe the idea of poverty in the text. Through another quote from Raphael on Pg4 the idea is portrayed celestially. “The mountains go right from the docks to the marshes, one whole world of steaming trash.” Using this quote we can identify that Belhala is not an established, well built or profitable city.

Instead it is unfortunately, a city of steaming garbage. Accordingly, this must mean the inhabitants haven’t enough money to live in a well-equipped, well-built city. Instead they live their daily lives among trash. This again portrays the theme of poverty superbly in the text. Lastly using characterisation the idea of poverty can be further investigated in the text. Using yet another quote (Pg4), from Raphael the idea is portrayed sufficiently. “I am one of the rubbish boys, picking up the stuff this city throws away.” Through this quote we can interoperate that Raphael is the family’s source of money. We make this observation due to the fact that Raphael is too young to legally work, and usually parents or guardians are supposed to provide for their children. Although Raphael must due to the dire, impoverished circumstances. Therefore his family must rely on Raphael to supply the little money they have. This is a terrific example of poverty in the text. Using the above examples we can now identify how the author has used characterisation to portray the idea of poverty in the novel.


In the text, the author uses reader positioning and point of view to investigate the idea/theme of friendship. Olivia Weston is the temporary house mother at Belhala’s Mission School and she has been characterised as a compassionate young lady who wants to make a difference to the children’s lives. We know this due to the way she thinks and behaves. In her visit to Colva Prison she explains how she “fell in love” with the Belhala children and the “eyes looking at me, and the smiles” (p.78). Using these two quotes we can infer Olivia has deep feelings of friendship for the boys, which is a fantastic example of the theme of friendship in the text. She also says another fantastic quote to support the theme: “the mountains of trash, and the children… is a thing to change your life” (p.78). Through this quote we can see that the author has used reader positioning to show Olivia’s friendship.

For example, Olivia’s thoughts position the reader to understand the depth of her affection for the Belhala children and her desire to care, love and connect with them. Her Friendly nature is also shown through her behaviour when she helps the boys visit the prison. Instead of simply escorting the boys, she buys them new clothes even though the prices shocked her. Clearly, Olivia does whatever she can to help the boys, even though she has no idea what’s going on. Only a true friend would act in this manner. Therefore again the idea of friendship is used in the text. Using the above examples we now recognise how Andy Mulligan has used reader positioning and characterisation to investigate the idea/theme of friendship in the text.


Characterisation and point of view are used to explore the idea/theme of corruption in the text. Using characterisation the author can portray this idea crisp and clearly. On Pg12 there is a fantastic quote from Gardo referring to the people working for the police to find the bag of money. “Do you really think they’ll give it?’’ (Page34). From this quote we can infer that Gardo doesn’t trust the police and believes they will make the people work without paying. This is an example of the police being untruthful and corrupt. Another quote to justify the idea of corruption can be found on page 34 from Raphael. “When the police get mean you don’t want to be around.”

Using this quote we can infer that the police will physically harm anyone they think is involved in the situation. This an excellent example of corruption in the text. A different example is when Raphael’s Auntie States: “Everyone knows what things they do!”(Page34). This means that everyone in Belhala is afraid of the violence the police could inflict on them. This is most definitely an unlawful act and validates the policemen being corrupt. Due to the analysis of the text we now recognize how the author has used the idea/theme of corruption in the novel.


To conclude, through a complete analysis of Trash by Andy Mulligan, we can now understand the author has used characterisation, point of view, reader positioning and setting to efficiently explore the ideas of, poverty, corruption and friendship in the novel.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 25 September 2016

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