Trash Themes | GradeSaver (2023)


byAndy Mulligan

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(Video) SSQ - Trash's Theme (1985)


Corruption—dishonest and fraudulent conduct by people in power—is among the most important themes in Trash. Mulligan explores the theme through his depiction of a developing-world society where political officials and police collude to maintain a status quo where a large segment of the society is deprived of the basics of survival while others have access to lavish living standards. The chief villain of the novel, Senator Zapanta, the country's vice-president, is a corrupt politician who stole millions of dollars of international aid money through contracts that lined his pockets. When Gabriel Olondriz set out to prove the man's corruption, Zapanta used his power in the justice system to have Olondriz framed for a murder he didn't commit. As Olondriz points out to Gardo and Olivia, there is a ripple effect from Zapanta's corruption. He didn't just steal money once; he also perpetuated an atmosphere of distrust that means richer countries won't send aid to the country because they assume anything they give will be siphoned off by corrupt officials. In this way, Zapanta's corruption precipitates the sustained suffering of thousands.


The protagonists of Trash exist in some of the world's most desperate, impoverished circumstances, living amid heaps of garbage produced by the rest of society. Rather than attend school, the boys work all day sorting through rubbish in the hopes of finding any scrap of value. They live in makeshift shanty homes without electricity or water, they are bitten by rats, they wear rags they find, and their feet are thick with callouses, as they are unable to justify the luxury of shoes when they and the families they support are always on the point of starvation. Born into such extreme poverty, the boys are driven by hopes of finding something so valuable that they will be lifted out of their reality. But, as Raphael states at the beginning of the book, most of the time all anyone finds is human excrement wrapped in paper. Ultimately, the novel shows how the pressure of having to survive intense poverty paradoxically brings about a sense of wily cleverness that enables the boys to outsmart the police.


Solidarity—mutual support within a group—is another of the book's central themes. Having been maligned by the rest of society, the people of Behala dumpsite band together as a street family. Mulligan conveys this sense of unity at the beginning of the book when Raphael talks about how everyone in the shantytown gathers around the same cooking fire in the evening. Despite their poverty, Raphael's aunt provides food for others, knowing they will reciprocate when they can. This solidarity among the poor keeps Rat, Raphael, and Gardo united as they set out to discover where José Angelico has stashed the senator's stolen money. Through the sharing of knowledge, food, and the little money available to them, the boys persevere. When they finally get the money they've risked their lives to find, the boys honor José and Gabriel's mission to redistribute the senator's stolen wealth among the poor. Before setting off to hide out in Sampalo, the boys give most of the money away by releasing it into the wind above Behala dumpsite. In this way, they give the rest of the community that has supported them the same opportunity to escape poverty.

(Video) “The Halo theme would sound like trash on classical guitar”

Systemic Oppression

As the force that perpetuates the extreme poverty in which the dumpsite people live, systemic oppression is another key theme in Trash. Mulligan explores the theme by depicting a developing-world society in which discrimination against the poor is made normal through widely held attitudes, structures, and expectations. Throughout the book, the boys are cognizant that richer members of society inherently judge and distrust them, looking upon them as beggars and thieves. This attitude is so ingrained that the boys never question it or fight against it. Instead, they adapt, wearing cleaner clothes when they are trying to move undetected through the city, or blending in with other nearly invisible street kids when they need to evade the cops. The discovery of José Angelico's money is so important to the boys because it presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to escape the system that has oppressed them throughout their lives. With enough money for boats, the boys move to the island of Sampalo and become fishermen in a paradise free of societal oppression.


Throughout Trash, Mulligan depicts the child protagonists outsmarting authority figures through well-thought-out lies. The theme first arises when the police come to Behala and ask if anyone has found a bag. Rather than hand over his find, Raphael doesn't trust the police and keeps quiet. When his aunt mentions he found something, Raphael is quick to invent a lie to cover for himself. He then outsmarts his aunt, claiming he only found a wallet and not the bag they want. Mulligan builds on the theme when Rat joins the group and exploits Father Juilliard's trust in him to research José Angelico on the computer. Raphael continues to outsmart authority when the police violently interrogate him and he manages not to give up the truth. Gardo also outsmarts authority figures when he tricks Olivia into helping visit Gabriel in prison, acquiring a flashy new outfit in the process. The theme is also a vital component of José Angelico's storyline, as José plots for years to get his revenge against Zapanta. Only when he has gained his employer's trust after eight years does José rob Zapanta's stolen aid money. Father Juilliard comments that Behala dumpsite boys are some of the greatest liars in the world. But although the book's main characters commit several acts of duplicity against people who trust them, their intentions are pure. The boys jump on an opportunity to lift themselves and their community out of poverty, while José sacrifices his life to correct a historical wrong.


Aspiration—the ambition or hope of achieving a goal—is another significant theme in Trash. Mulligan introduces at the beginning of the book when Raphael comments on how all dumpsite sorters are motivated by the same dream of finding something of real value in the garbage heaps. Raphael, like everyone living in extremely impoverished circumstances, aspires to move beyond a subsistence existence. That goal prevents him from giving over the wallet when the police want it, as he understands it must be of some as-yet-unknown value, greater than what the police offer. That goal also sends him and his friends off on their mission to learn the mystery of what happened to José and the money he took. The theme of aspiration also arises when Rat reveals that he came north from Sampalo to earn enough money to buy a fishing boat. To achieve his goal, Rat deprives himself of nourishment and lives alone, ensuring no one is dependent on him. He puts up with horrible living conditions and days spent sorting through garbage because in his circumstance he can steadily build a savings pile. By the end of the book, Rat attains his goal of fishing in Sampalo, bringing Raphael, Gardo, and Pia to share in the dream.

(Video) SSQ - Trash's Theme


While the poverty perpetuated by systemic oppression is itself an insidious sort of violence in Trash, the boys also live with the very tangible threat of physical violence. The theme enters the narrative when a police officer takes Raphael's chin in his hand and questions him. The officer acts as though he is being friendly, but the hint of physical contact implicitly reminds Raphael of the police's state-sanctioned ability to wield violence. That violence erupts when police arrest Raphael and bring him to the station for interrogation. Although he is a child and his hands are tied, the adult police physically assault him as though it means nothing to them. He refuses to give up the truth about the wallet he found, and the police escalate the violence, hanging him out the window by his feet. As he leaves the interrogation room bloodied and disoriented, Raphael reveals to the reader that José Angelico was killed during police questioning in the same station. As someone accustomed to life on the streets, Gardo carries a sharpened hook with him at all times—a necessary tool all dumpsite boys use to fend off attacks. Gardo showcases his own ability to use violence when Marco betrays him and tries to get him arrested. Gardo slashes the man's face with his hook, managing to escape in the process. In this way, Mulligan shows how the threat of attack brings about defensive violence.

(Video) KOF'96 - Trash Head (Goenitz Theme) OST

(Video) Pizza Tower OST - Tubular Trash Zone (Oh Shit!)


Trash Themes | GradeSaver? ›

Andy Mulligan's novel Trash examines themes of poverty, homelessness, corruption, waste, religion and friendship.

What is the theme of the corruption in Trash? ›

In Trash, everyone who is not part of the government or the police force is at a disadvantage. Even at a level as elevated as the vice-president, government corruption is rampant. Zapanta takes millions in international aid funds, and there is little reason to believe that that is his first abuse of power.

What is the theme of poverty in Trash by Andy Mulligan? ›

Mulligan's descriptions of life in poverty emphasize the inhumane levels of squalor that many young children in Behala are forced to endure. Many children are forced to live in rotting waste, which they find repulsive, traumatizing, and dangerous.

What is the symbolism in Trash? ›

Trash thus comes to symbolizes the moral corruption of the authority figures in Mulligan's fictional city, which keeps innocent people oppressed and living in landfills while selfish people remain in power.

What is Trash by Andy Mulligan about? ›

It tells the tale of 3 dumpsite boys, Raphael, Gardo and Rat, who live on the trash heaps of Behala and sort through it, hoping to find anything they can sell or recycle. Their lives are rugged, poverty stricken, unadventurous. This changes when the boys find something in the trash: a bag, with a key and a wallet.

What are some examples of themes about corruption? ›


Corruption exists everywhere there is an imbalance of power. Corruption and transparency cannot coexist. The vulnerable suffer the most from corruption. Corruption is everyone's problem.

Is corruption a literary theme? ›

Although it may not be obvious, corruption is a common theme that is often found in literature. There are many stories, most of which are completely different types of literature, that all share corruption as their main theme.

Is poverty a theme in a story? ›

The theme of poverty can be seen as one of the common themes in English Literature. But, poverty itself is rarely depicted as the central theme of a literary work. Though poverty was there before Industrial Revolution, it was not a social issue.

What is the theme for eradicate poverty? ›

Dignity for all in practice is the umbrella theme of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty for 2022-2023.

What is the garbage can metaphor? ›

The garbage can metaphor! Now, that's a really reassuring metaphor. It means either save this or destroy it. If you put a file into the wastebasket, you destroy it, but if you put a disk into the wastebasket, you are saving it.

What is the symbol of no littering? ›

🚯 No Littering

A person dropping litter (rubbish, trash) with a red stroke through it, indicating that littering is prohibited in this area. Usually implied by the fact that littering is not welcome anywhere, this sign serves as a reminder in areas that are known to attract litter.

What news does Gardo give Gabriel that upsets him? ›

She discovers Gardo has deceived her so he can share the contents of a letter with Gabriel. Gabriel, who is dying, tells them he had evidence that an important official named Senator Zapanta stole $30 million of international aid money. Gabriel was falsely convicted of other crimes and left to rot in prison because he ...

What are the 4 types of corruption in? ›

Corruption can be defined and categorized in different ways. The most common types or categories of corruption are supply versus demand corruption, grand versus petty corruption, conventional versus unconventional corruption and public versus private corruption.

What are the 3 examples of corruption? ›

The annual index measures three forms of government corruption across the executive branch, the judiciary, the military and police, and the legislature: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of public funds or other resources.

What are the four elements of corruption? ›

The offender gave or received gratification (e.g. money, loan, employment, sexual services); The gratification was an inducement or reward for any act/favour/disfavour; There was an objectively corrupt/dishonest element in the transaction; and. The offender gave or accepted the gratification with guilty knowledge.

What is the main theme of the story? ›

Theme is the main or central idea in a literary work. It is the unifying element of a story. A theme is not a summary of characters or events. Rather, it is the controlling idea or central insight of the story.

Which are examples of themes? ›

What are some common themes?
  • Beauty.
  • Good vs. evil.
  • Coming-of-age.
  • Loyalty.
  • Betrayal.
  • Life and Death.
  • Justice.
  • Family.
Jun 29, 2022

What is the theme of a story? ›

The term theme can be defined as the underlying meaning of a story. It is the message the writer is trying to convey through the story. Often the theme of a story is a broad message about life. The theme of a story is important because a story's theme is part of the reason why the author wrote the story.

Is homelessness a theme? ›

To be homeless is to be vulnerable. Homelessness implies exclusion, poverty and exile; it conjures up images of rootlessness and marginalization. Yet homelessness does not always lead to exclusion and social deprivation.

What is a story theme or moral? ›

What is the difference between Theme and Moral? Theme and moral are overlapping concepts with minor differences. Theme is the central idea of a text that is implied by the author several times in a book or a story while moral is the message or the lesson that the author wants readers to get from the story.

What symbolizes the poor? ›

A wheel can also be a useful visual representation or analogy for poverty. The wheel's hub represents absolute poverty. The wheel's spokes represent the different needs of those living in poverty, and the rim of the wheel represents a life fulfilled.

What are some themes about poverty? ›

  • Themes of Poverty.
  • Children Poverty.
  • Single Mother Poverty.
  • Poverty and the aging population.
  • Government Response to Poverty.
  • Homeless.
  • Working poor.
  • Impoverished young people.

What is the theme of wealth and poverty? ›

Wealth and Poverty Theme Overview: The Wealth and Poverty theme aims to address economic growth, wealth distribution, poverty, inequality, and empowerment issues in both domestic and international settings.

What is the moral of poverty? ›

Injustice, rather than blame, becomes the moral compass on which to view poverty amidst abundance. This type of injustice constitutes a strong impetus for change. It signals that a wrong is being committed that cries out for a remedy.

Why is it called garbage? ›

The word garbage originally meant chicken giblets and other entrails, as can be seen in the 15th century Boke of Kokery, which has a recipe for Garbage. What constitutes garbage is highly subjective, with some individuals or societies tending to discard things that others find useful or restorable.

What other things mean garbage? ›

  • garbage.
  • debris.
  • rubbish.
  • junk.
  • dust.
  • litter.
  • truck.
  • sewage.

What character lives in a garbage can? ›

Oscar the Grouch is a Muppet character created by Jim Henson and Jon Stone for the PBS/HBO children's television program Sesame Street. He has a green body, no visible nose, and lives in a trash can.

What does this emoji 🚮 mean? ›

A symbol showing a person putting litter (rubbish) in the trash (rubbish bin). A more positive version of the Do Not Litter Symbol.

What are 3 reasons why littering is bad? ›

Litter endangers our environment, our wildlife, and our economy. It pollutes our neighborhoods, decreases property values, and destroys our city's natural beauty. The ideal way to handle the problem of littering is to prevent it in the first place.

Is littering killing animals? ›

Litter Kills Wildlife

Plastic litter is the most common killer of animals and marine animals are the most notably affected. Each year over 100,000 dolphins, fish, whales, turtles and more drown after becoming entangled in or digesting plastic litter.

How old is Raphael and Gardo? ›

Both Raphael and Gardo are fourteen years old. One day, the boys find a small leather bag that turns their lives upside down.

How did José Angelico steal the money? ›

José Angelico was Zapanta's senior houseboy and managed to steal $6 million from him by smuggling it out in an old refrigerator. José Angelico Jose took the money because Zapanta had stolen it first—from funds earmarked for international aid.

What is the main idea of corruption? ›

Corruption is a form of dishonesty or a criminal offense which is undertaken by a person or an organization which is entrusted in a position of authority, in order to acquire illicit benefits or abuse power for one's personal gain.

What is the theme of corruption in The Great Gatsby? ›

The story of The Great Gatsby shows the idea of the corruption of the American Dream. The American Dream is the belief that no matter what social class a person lives in, they can eventually have the opportunity to gain economic success. Gatsby represents the corruption of this American Dream.

What is the theme of corruption in Man of the people? ›

Perhaps the most integral theme of A Man of the People is that of corruption opposed to naivety. In the beginning of the book, Odili thinks it's possible to run the post-independence government without corruption. He thinks he can unseat corrupt ministers and replace them with men like himself.

What is the theme of corruption in Fahrenheit 451? ›

In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 society is corrupt. People only know what the government wants them to know and the government is controlling this by making everyone believe communication is bad. Also the people have little knowledge because books have been outlawed and destroyed.

How do you start a corruption essay? ›

To sum it up, Corruption is a great evil of society. This evil should be quickly eliminated from society. Corruption is the poison that has penetrated the minds of many individuals these days. Hopefully, with consistent political and social efforts, we can get rid of Corruption.

What are the 5 types of corruption? ›

Corruption can be defined and categorized in different ways. The most common types or categories of corruption are supply versus demand corruption, grand versus petty corruption, conventional versus unconventional corruption and public versus private corruption.

What are the 5 lines of corruption? ›

5 Lines on Corruption Free India

2) Strict laws should be made to avoid corruption. 3) Corruption-free India will be more developed. 4) People should also oppose corruption. 5) Strict actions should be taken against corrupt officials.

What is the meaning of morally corrupt? ›

Someone who is corrupt behaves in a way that is morally wrong, especially by doing dishonest or illegal things in return for money or power.

How is Daisy morally corrupt? ›

Daisy's lack of selflessness led her to destroy everything in her wake: “They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald 179 ...

What are three themes in The Great Gatsby? ›

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald offers up commentary on a variety of themes -- justice, power, greed, betrayal, the American dream, and so on. Of all the themes, perhaps none is more well developed than that of social stratification.

What is the theme of corruption in the White Devil? ›

In humanizing (and critiquing) both the ruling classes and the people that serve them, The White Devil thus shows that both power and greed are equally corrupting forces—and that stratified class systems harm all of the people within them.

What is the theme of Poison corruption and death? ›

Ultimately, Shakespeare suggests a connection between external rot and internal, systemic rot, arguing that physical corruption portends and even predicts the poisoning of spiritual, political, and social affairs. An atmosphere of poison, corruption, and death lingers over Hamlet from the play's very first moments.

What is the theme of corruption of the American dream? ›

The desire to obtain wealth and power surpasses moral and noble values. Money and stagnant social values corrupt the American ways in the roaring twenties. Throughout this novel Fitzgerald displays the greed and selfishness behind the ultimate goal of achieving the American Dream.


1. The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match - Trash Head "Goenitz Theme"
2. Trash Taste Background Music (Extended)
3. Euro Trash - (1993) - Theme / Opening
4. Hanging Out With Friends Compilation | Trash Truck | Netflix Jr
(Netflix Jr.)
5. The King of Fighters '96 - Trash Head (Arranged)
6. Android Trash Anthem
(Vinesauce: The Extra Sauce)


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