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Let me tell you what we're looking for.

Plastic, because plastic can be turned into cash, fast—by the kilo.

And I know what everyone finds, because I know what we've been finding, for all the years I've 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.

In the above quotes, Raphael reveals the privations people in his village endure on a daily basis. Everyone is so poor that the Behala dump-site, which has piles as high as the "Himalayas," is termed a treasure trove. However, most of what everyone finds is human feces. Mulligan's fictitious story of extreme privation is juxtaposed against human instances of courage, compassion, and love. The Behala dumpsite, however, mirrors real-life locations in the developing regions of Central America and South Asia, where open dump-sites contribute to air and water pollution.

"Ten thousand is a lot of money!" she said, and her voice rose up. "Have you thought what we could do with that?"

I interrupted then. "You think they'd give it?" I said. "You really think they'd give it?"

"I think they would!" she said.

Raphael shook her hand gently . . . " . . . If someone here—one of us—if one of us got all that money, you think we'd be allowed to keep it for long?"

In the quotes above, Mulligan reveals the prevalent corruption among law enforcement officials in Raphael's city. Although the police have promised a reward of ten thousand dollars for the leather bag, there is little evidence (based on their past actions) that they will pay it.

In the story, Raphael is later interrogated and subjected to harsh physical treatment at the hands of the police and detectives. Although they eventually release him, Raphael's terrible experience reinforces the reality of living under the authority of those who enjoy unfettered power.

I had expected cells, but all I saw was cages. They were on my left and right, and they were the type of cages you might put lions and tigers in, in an old-fashioned zoo.

In the above quote, Mulligan uses visual imagery to emphasize an unsentimental view of criminals within the prison system....

(The entire section is 568 words.)