Through the book titled Trash, author Dorothy Allison features the struggles of a violent survivor from a poverty-stricken family. Although Dorothy’s story is not a biography, it certainly portrays the life of a working-class lesbian through a reinvented and condensed experience. The girl is depicted as addicted to violence but remains hopeful. Dorothy uses language to paint vivid images of the girl’s family and past. She is a survivor who ‘got away from the brutality and poverty of a white southern family. A scholarship for college studies provides the girl’s escape from her harsh environment. In college, she meets people she had only read about and vividly describes how different they are. In Dorothy’s words, there were “girls whose fathers loved them–innocently; boys who drove cars they had not stolen.” The contrast between the two classes of young people illustrates the inequality caused by capitalism in American society.
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The narrator reveals her two worlds and their intersection while trying to hide her past from lovers. One of the stories, titled “River of Names,” details the girl’s childhood memories of bitter rage, sudden deaths, violence, and endless chaos. She hides this past from lovers, but it is revealed in her funny stories, lies, inability to love, and the graphically described wild sex. In addition, she uses physical fights and alcohol as an escape and distraction from the impacts of her oppressive past childhood. While Dorothy’s stories and writing style are pretty powerful, some weaknesses also exist. The fiction is often uneven and shocking at times, as some stories continue for too long. In other areas, there are brief or minor ideas and moments that may not qualify as fiction.