The novel “Trash” by Andy Mulligan that has 3 main characters; Raphael, Gardo and Jun-Jun, explores many different themes through several different elements. The Reader can clearly tell that the 3 main themes/ideas in the novel trash are poverty, friendship and corruption.
The theme of Poverty is explored through the element of setting. Poverty is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic personal needs such as food, clothing and shelter. The setting of trash displays the theme of poverty very obviously. The rubbish town Behala is a perfect example of how bad poverty is where the novel is set, as Olivia Weston describes it as “an awful punishment that will never end” and Raphael says “Most people live in boxes stacked tall and high.” This describes the state of the rubbish town behala to the reader and further develops the readers knowledge of how the theme poverty is used in the novel “Trash”.
The theme of friendship is explored through the element of characterisation. Friendship is a relationship between two people with a a bond of mutual affection and who provide support to each other. Characterisation of the characters in the novel has been used to show the theme of friendship. One example of friendship is the relationship between Olivia weston and the boys. She had a strong enough friendship with Jun-Jun that she was willing to use her own money to provide Gardo with the chance to see his “Grandfather”.This gives the reader and insight to the friendship she shares with Jun-Jun and the lengths she was willing to go to for him and his friends, showing how the theme of friendship is used in the novel.
The theme of corruption in explored through the element of narrative structure . Corruption is dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power to benefit themselves or someone they know, typically involving bribery. Narrative structure explores the theme of corruption through the novel by the different events that occur as the novel advances. There are several different examples of corruption in this novel, one is when Raphaels Aunt says “everyone knows what things they do” (referring to the police) showing that the residents of behala are aware that the police are willing to physically harm anyone for their own benefit to get information about the missing bag case. This tells the reader about the dishonest actions of those with power, to benefit themselves. This event happening in trash further expands the readers knowledge of theme of corruption in this novel.
With analysis of Trash, we can understand that Andy Mulligan has used the elements of setting, characterisation and narrative structure to explore the themes of poverty, friendship and corruption in trash.