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This is a literary allusion (reference) to the character Caliban in Shakespeare's play, "The Tempest." Caliban is a monster who has been enslaved by Prospero the magician who landed on Caliban's island when he and his daughter were put out to sea to die. Caliban resents the power Prospero holds over him, so when other men are shipwrecked on the island, Caliban tries to convince them to help him kill Prospero so he can steal his books and magic.
As a major theme of "Hunger" is education and the strong desire for it, the allusion the author uses makes a great deal of sense.
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