Trapper Boy in the Coal Mines

Trapper Boy in Turkey Knob Mine in West Virginia

The late 1800’s and early 1900’s were flourishing eras for coalmines in many countries. Coalmines were valued of great importance as the coal they produced was a great source of energy for industrial purposes. Coal mining was thus an essential part of any economy as it provided jobs to many of those in need. Many men and children that worked in the mines suffered terrible deaths. Baldomero Lillo’s use of claustrophobic metaphors in his story “Gate No. 12” foreshadows the doom for Pablo because these allegories are representative of the systemic destruction of the lives of miners. This photo of a young trapper boy in America relates to "Gate No. 12" as the harsh realities of the mines foretells fate for young boys working in them. This photo taken by Lewis Hine in 1908 is of a young boy whose job was to open and close the trap door of a mine. Trapper boys had to open the trap door to let the mining cars through. This job had to be done very fast and in a minimal amount of time due to the ventilation and lack of air supply underground. These boys were putting their lives at risk--if they did not do their job quick enough they could have been run over or parts of their bodies could have been mangled. In “Gate No. 12” we have but a mere tiny eight-year-old bound to the wall of the murky mine in isolation in order to become the new gate boy. For the children working in the mines, they are denied a healthy childhood and are transformed into the mine’s working slaves as they breathe poisoned air for fourteen long hours each day. Children that work in the mines are condemned to a prisoner’s life of fear working hopelessly from dawn to dusk until they themselves have become old, decrepit, and worthless waste. 

Gate Number 12
Trapper Boy in the Coal Mines