Mole People is a fascinating anthropological analysis about a category of people we all know about. One might be tempted to believe that it is clear what the book is about from the title, but at a deeper look, it will be obvious that it is a lot more than just a presentation of the lowest part of our society - it is the story of these people told by them. The book presents the unknown face of the mole people, of the homeless, poor, mentally challenged. It is a daring book, which at times shocks you, a book that shows parts of our society that most of us ignore or fear to see.
The term "mole people" is a term used to identify the homeless people that live, in the many abandoned subway tunnels, under the City of New York. For obvious reasons, it is hard to say how many people live in these tunnels, but according to Jennifer Toth's estimations there are about 5,000 people belonging to all social categories.
Believed to be an urban legend, the mole people prove to be a very real part of New York as it is shown by Jennifer Toth's incursion into the abandoned tunnels of NYC. All the research took the author about a year to complete the book, period in which Toth found and interviewed several people in order to discover what their story is and how they managed to live underground.
Even if Toth's interviews are done with only few of the members of this sort of underground society, they are representative in analyzing whether the underground life is becoming a sort of society or not. The types of people found by Toth underground vary as she interviews assassins, artists, families, employed and unemployed people, mentally challenged people and so on. These people's stories are stories of despair, poverty and incapability, but they are also stories of hope.
When reading the book, the reader expects to find incredible stories about an underground society, whose organization is based on some different norms than ours. Actually, what the reader discovers is a book that forces you to see the reality and accept it, a book that shows a cruel world, in which the unfortunate have little chances of escape. Jennifer Toth's study on the mole people brings into discussion the fact that we might be talking about a type of underground society, organized as tribes that share a specific type of culture and behavior.
Although the existence of these underground societies is highly debatable, it is obvious that we are dealing with a type of social organization. These underground bands are described as tribes that share some specific features, the most important of them being the alienation from society. Of course, a society means a lot more than a group of people gathered by some common circumstances, but this underground type of organization is very similar to a society on many issues. These bands, communities, or societies, seem to survive in time, although their members die in a short period of time. This proves that there is a social organization of some type, as there are communities founded on a certain territory, with people that have, more or less, their own moral code and their own understanding of family or kinship.
It is hard to believe that by entering the world of the mole people along with Jennifer Toth one might change his mind about what society, family or kinship really are. This underground type of organization is the organization of people that for a reason or another left society as we all know it. Some of the people identified by Toth are…