The garbage men

The scorpion is rendered as helpless and timid. “Ten hours of steady rain had driven him to crawl beneath a sack of rice” signifies that he has suffered and is now weak so he has retreated. “Parting with his poison” indicates that the scorpion had to make a sacrifice and that without his poison he is powerless and feeble so he has to hide. Both of these phrases give the idea that the scorpion also had to suffer as well as the mother, father and child.

So, similarly to the mother and her family, the reader also feels sympathy towards the frightened creature. On the other hand, the scorpion is also made to sound deadly and dangerous in the phrase “flash of diabolic tail”- this makes him seem evil and devil like. So the scorpion is powerful when he is in possession of his poison, but he is weak when he has to part with it because he is forced to flee. For that reason, the scorpion only has a limited control of the situation. This also denotes that people are scared of him, but he is also scared of them. The poem Night of the Scorpion consists of a close- knit community where the mother is the central figure since the peasants “sat around the floor with (the) mother in the centre”.

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However, the holy man is separate because he comes at the end to “tame the poison with an incantation”. The similarities of the two poems are that they both contain poor people which are likely to be uneducated and live a basic life; due to the fact that the “scavengers” are garbage men and that the characters in Night of the Scorpion live surrounded by “mud baked walls” and “sat around on the floor”.

One of the differences of the characters in the two poems is that they are from two different cultures: Two Scavengers is set in San Francisco (in America) “across (a) small gulf in the high seas” whereas Night of the Scorpion is set in a poorer country as it has “mud baked walls” and “they sat around on the floor” thus the country is less developed. Another difference is that the “elegant couple” is rich compared to the characters in Night of the Scorpion , the rich couple is also educated but the characters in Night of the Scorpion most likely are not. The poet of Two Scavengers in a Truck thinks the characters are unequal but they should be equal. He enforces the idea of how this “system” works and that it should be questioned.

He shows that people who are from such segregated worlds and live such different, separate lives usually do not come together, and if they do, it is only because of such circumstances:- like a red light on the street which is “for an instant holding all four together as if anything at all were possible between them”. For that reason, the stoplight is the only thing which can stop both lives and can combine people from different worlds, hence all hope is held within the red light. However, the red light could also represent that they can only be together “for an instant” and that they will soon have to return to their unconnected and separate lives.

The poet gives justification for the way the garbage men look and behave by writing that they were “up since four a.m.” and maybe in his view this is an indication that the “elegant couple” do not work as hard. The poet answers all the questions he has raised in this poem; due to the “system”- this alleged “democracy”, there are levels of status and people are categorised and labelled. He shows indubitably that the fundamental conflict is money and wealth, and that this determines a person’s position in society.

The poet of Night of the Scorpion believes that the characters are persistent and do not give up hope or faith, even if they do not all believe in God, and that they are desperate to hold on to their family members who they love, so they are willing to try anything, even if they do not believe in it. As a result, the poet is trying to illustrate the importance of family. He is also endeavouring to insinuate the lack of medical and health care in third- world countries. So, a similarity between the garbage men in Two Scavengers in a Truck and the characters in Night of the Scorpion is that even in totally different cultures, which consist of poor and rich countries, people are still deprived.

The differences of the poets’ view of the characters in the two poems are that the “elegant couple” are richer thus they are higher than the characters in Night of the Scorpion . He gives the reader this idea by saying “an elegant open Mercedes with an elegant couple in it” as oppose to the other poet who states that the peasants were “sat around on the floor”. This means that the elegant couple are higher up in an expensive car, whilst the peasants must sit on the floor.

However, the “scavengers” are “gazing down” at the “elegant couple” which is ironic because the reader would expect the “elegant couple” to be looking down at the “scavengers” as they are higher up than the garbage men as well as the peasants. So this could possibly mean that due to the appearance of the “elegant couple” they seem like their lives would be much better than the lives of the bin men, however their personal lives may be poor compared to the garbage men. Therefore this suggests that although wealth makes an individual’s quality of life better, it does not necessarily improve their individual life and happiness.

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