Trash 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.

Scored Essay Examples


On this page you will find four examples of how the essay could have been written. Essays are shown with scores of 4, 3, 2, and 1. Again your goal is to score either a 3 or 4. This example of the essay was provided by from the California Department of Education's CAHSEE website.


Note: You can pass with a writing score of 2, but you need to do very well on the rest of the language

arts session of the exam. 

Scoring 4 Points

Would you enjoy taking your classes at the city dump? Trash is not beautiful.It is a well-known

fact that students learn better when they’re in a clean environment.To be attractive, trash on our school ground must be picked up.The importance of picking up trash is to beautify our campus and make our school a healthier place to learn.

We want our campus to be attractive and clean, right?When rival schools come to compete against us, we don’t want them going home criticizing us because of our campus.We want to keep our campus clean to show that we’re not slobs and are educated enough to pick up our own garbage.

Who would want to eat lunch inside a dumpster?Or exercise in a gym that smells like rotten eggs and spoiled milk?We need a campus that will make it easier and healthier to learn.Would essays show the student’s best if they brainstormed ideas while looking out the window at old food, used bandaids empty soda cans and gum wrappers?The way this campus looks influences the

way we perform in our classrooms.To get the maximum quality work done, we need clean and sanitary workspaces.

In conclusion, picking up any trash around school will be beneficial to everybody, especially

us.If you see a piece of a paper blowing around stop it with your foot and bend down, pick it up, then throw it away.There’s no reason why our campus needs to be anything other than attractive.With everyone’s help, it can be attractive and provide a better learning atmosphere.

Scoring 3 Points

            Nobody would like it if people stopped picking up trash and let our school become filled with trash

 and let our school become filled with trash.It is very important to keep our school clean to provie an appropriate learning environment.If everyone would out our school would look more attractive.

A clean school campus would offer a nicer and appropriate learning environment.A dirty school makes it hard to concentrate on schoolwork.If trash covered the caompus students might be looking classroom window for what awaits them after class and wondering why someone is not cleaning it up.A clean school would help the students concentrate so grades might raise not only making the school look better on the outside but academically as well.

No one enjoys being in a dirty environment.Before school, snack, lunch, and after school would be much less enjoy-able to both the students and faculty if our campus was dirty.People do not like eating in trash filled lunch areas and so there would be more students leaving school permitted or not for lunch.Bascially, students and teachers would not be able to stand being in a dirty environment during school hours.

In conclusion living environments are kept clean and so it is equally important to keep learning environments clean as well.Both the students and faculty spend large portions of their days here so to make school a little better and more attractive our school needs to be kept clean.It would be easy if everyone just did their part.

Scoring 2 Points

The important of getting rid of garbage on school camps is very important.The importance

of getting rid of the garbage is making are school look nice, give less work for the teachers and janitors to do.Another reason it is important because if I don’t look oke people are going to think

that it isn’t a good school.

I think that this a good subject to write on because the trash on school campus is terrible.School campuses have a lot of garbage because people don’t care about throwing there trash away.But people need to think more reasonsivly because they are destroying the earth if they do not pick up there garbage. So people from now on when you have garbage don’t throw it on the ground throw it in the garbage can.

Another reason it is important for people not to litter because this where we live and we don’t need

to destroy where we live.Pluse what would other people come to our school meaning the district office people think of us if we just left our trash all over the ground that would make us look bad.

Scoring 1 Point

    It would be a good idea to clean up over envirement, maybe if there was more trash cans well you could make our schlool cleaner if just everybody picked up on thing our schlool would not be 3/4ths clean that’s how bad our mess has gotten to who wants to attend a school that’s nowfor the trash and ants and roaches etc.No one does that’s why we should clean our school & our great reward in the end a clean & safe and healthy envirement and school.


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