‘ People say to me “I guess you just never know what you’ll find, sifting through rubbish! Today could be your lucky day.” I say to them “ Friend, I think I know what I find.” And I know what everyone finds, because I know what we’ve been finding for all the years I have been working, which is eleven years.It’s the one word: stuppa which means- and I’m sorry if I offend- it’s our word for human muck.’
Raphael Fernandez is one of the main characters in the novel ‘Trash’. In this book Raphael starts as a poor boy sifting through worthless, disgusting rubbish at a trash sight in Behala. He has little meaning to his life as it is a dull routine of desperation and survival. He finds a small bag and inside although he does not know at the time, is an extraordinary adventure, new friends and a new way of living. There may have been some setbacks with a brutal encounter with Raphael and the horrible, gruesome police along the way of this journey. But I believe that this builds him even more into the person he is now. Raphael becomes more brave, witty and outgoing throughout the book, he finds the police snapping at his heels as well as being scary, he finds it exciting. If you are going to be being chased by the police why not with your best mates who have been in the same situation as you and are growing as people at the same time?
‘Rubber is good. Just last week we got a freak delivery of old tyres from somewhere’.
Raphael is very poor boy who lives at a trash sight in Behala with his aunty and many cousins. He sorts all the rubbish for plastic, clean paper or anything that might be worth even a small amount but all he ever really finds is ‘crap’! Maybe the occasional small piece of plastic if he is lucky, but that is only on a good day. He is not very confident and he keeps his head down most of the time. He occasionally breaks a smile but not often enough. His best friend Gardo and him switch between houses for night.
‘I’m going to kill you, you liar!’ He lunged at me and I was falling backwards, but the policeman lifted me and the suit man had my suit’.
When Raphael has a brutal encounter with the police he gets awfully beaten and threatened to be killed. He comes away from the police station barely being able to see out of his puffy, blue and purple eyes. He was so swollen and so physically and mentally scarred, his presence was like he was crumpling to the ground and his words were struggling to come out of his bloody mouth. This encounter grows him as a character and is the beginning of a new found strength in Raphael. He shows courage and loyalty, two traits that continue to develop throughout ‘Trash’.
‘Running for your life two times in one day’.
Raphaels confidence and bravery has hit it’s peak at the end of the novel. He has made new friends, been on an adventure and has discovered how taking the smallest risk in everyday life can lead to so much more if you keep going, sometimes it and be hard but you just have to keep on going. He values friendship and his life has been on a much more exciting journey.
‘You walk far enough and the world does turn into soft sand’.
Raphael has transformed tremendously throughout the book, from a shy unextraordinary trash boy to a tough, brave extraordinary boy. He now has a long, long story to tell about how one little bag opened up a whole new life for him and his friends which includes running and hiding from the police all around the city of Behala. Being free from all the garbage opened up his eyes, he now had a family maybe not a mother or a father but people who he loves and cared for.
Sarah Neal, Raroa Normal Intermediate