The Destructors

Hi! I’ve been working with Martina Ibarbia, Milagros Mendez and Rosario Vago on these questions on “The destructors”

Rite of passage

  1. An object of desire
  2. Trespassing (Defying authority)
  3. “Dare/Challenge (Construction of identity)
  4. The mischief (it should be owned up and dealt with in a mature way)
  5. Atonement (Confesion and regret, acceptance)

 

Answers:

1.The desire of the kids is to destroy Mr. Thomas’s house, and the reader can notice this when it “reads: “ ‘We’ll pull it down,’ he said. ‘We’ll destroy it’.” And “ It’s proposed that tomorrow, and Monday we destroy Old Misery’s house.”

2. The kids defy the authorities (authorities being the owner of the house, their parents and the law) when they enter “Old Misery’s” house without any kind of permission. “Blackie climbed the door into Misery’s garden.”

3. Trevor wanted to prove that he could be more than just another member of the gang. He wanted to show that although he came from a high class and had a fancy name, he could still be like the others, in fact he believed he could be the leader of the gang. “ ‘I don’t want to pinch anything’ T. said. ‘I’v got a better idea.’” , “‘It was the end of his (Blackie’s) leadership’” and “ T. was giving his orders with decision” show us that the idea T. had allowed him to prove that he could be a great leader.

4. The kids show no kind of regret after being caught by Mr. Thomas, we can see this when they lock him in the loo and intend to leave him there over night. “‘There’s nothing personal,’ the voice said. ‘We want you to be comfortable tonight’” and “‘You wouldn’t be comfortable, not in your house, you wouldn’t. Not now’”.

5. The kids don’t confess or show regret with actions after destroying Old Misery’s house. “‘ What do you mean, boy?’ but the footsteps receeded.” After the disaster the kids made at the house, they left, leaving Mr. Thomas aline the whole night in a garden loo.

  • Find quotes to prove the following themes:

 

  1. The individual affected by the social crisis. (Post war).

  • “‘I got some chocolates’ (…) The gang were puzzled and perturbed by this action and tried to explain it away”. The kids don’t trust the man, they seem to believe that too much kindness isn’t normal in people, so they choose to find an explanation to why somebody would do this extremely rare gest and make it go away. There is no trust in society either, every day there are less persons willing to do an act of true kindness towards the other, so when we do receive one, we find ourselves puzzled and can not believe it.

 

  • “‘Let me out’ he called, and heard the key turn in the lock. ‘A serious crash,’ he thought, and felt dithery and confused and old.” The man is clearly affected by the problem the kids are causing, although he hasn’t done anything to them or anyone else. We can see this in society, bad things happen to people that haven’t done anything to deserve it (As in war: horrible deaths just because they tried to save the country).

 

  1. The aftermath of he war: How destruction leads to more destruction.

  • “‘we’ve done enough anyway.’ ‘Oh, no, we haven’t. Anybody could do this’ (…) ‘We’ve got to finish.’ This quote shows how they had the chance to stop and leave the house, but they decided the destruction they had caused wasn’t enough. If they had already got there, why were they to stop? They found no answer to this question and kept on destroying. People often find that the damages that they have caused arent discovered or caught, so they keep on doing what they’re doing at higher risks and causing more destruction to society.

 

  1. The evil nature of man.

  • “‘I don’t mind you playing round the place Saturday mornings. Sometimes I like company.’ (…)  ‘Let me out’ he called, and heard the key turn in the lock. ‘A serious crash,’ he thought, and felt dithery and confused and old.” The kids tricked Old misery into the loo, even after he told them they could come over on saturdays and play in his garden. We can see how evil the kids are even after the old man offered an act of kindness.

 

  1. Loss of compassion (as a result of war).

  • “His eye lit on the remains of a bath and what had once been a dresser and he began to laugh. There wasn’t anything left anywhere.” The man’s home had been destroyed along with everything he cared about and had to listen to a man laugh about the misery he was left in. This man that helped him get out of the loo had a significant loss of compassion.

 

  1. Class struggle.

  • “There was every reason why T., as he was afterwards reffered to, should have been an object of mockery- there was his name (and they substituted the initial because otherwise they had no excuse to laugh at it), the fact that his father, a former architect and present clerk, had ‘cone down in the world’ and that his mother considered herself better than the neighbours.” We can see how the kids had to replace Trevor’s name for “T” because they would otherwise laugh at it all day because it was a rich person’s name. Trevor was at a higher social class and his new friends mocked him for it.

 

Symbols:

1. Mr Thomas’s house: this house was a symbol of strength and hope, that was the only thing that survived the war.

2. Mr Thomas and the children: they represent the fragmented society, on one hand, Mr Thomas conveys the goodness that survived the war, and the children the damaged part of society, that lose all hopes.

3. Old Misery: this name was how the kids called Mr Thomas, it conveys the impossibility of seeing good in people and kindness, that how everyone must be buried in misery after war.

4. Money burning: it symbolizes what the kids wanted, they were so affected by war, everything they wanted was to destroy, to take away people’s belongings to put them in the same position as they were.

5. The debris of the house: it symbolizes the ruins of war, how destroyed was London town.

6. The laughter of the driver: this showed the lack of compassion people had, the destroyed society after war.

BLOG ANSWERS:

2) I believe that the theme of this story is lack of compassion, cruelness, destruction, war and society. We can see the lack of compassion and cruelness when the kids lock Old misery in his own loo and destroy his house, without thinking for a second that they were ruining his life, we can also see it when the man in the truck laughs about the destruction of a home and a life. Destruction is presented in the house, Old misery’s life and the kid’s childhood and innocence. The society is shown as a wrecked one, because the innocent lives of the children have now become into souls of evil and with no place for feeling anything but anger and desire of destruction, who will grow and will be the future of the society, while the owner of the truck laughs at a life getting ruined with not a little pity for the man in order to even try to control himself and show some respect in front of a destroyed home. All these can be compared with war and the pain and destruction it causes: lovely lives destroyed along with territory, in such cruel manner

 

4)  The story is set in London since London was extremely damaged after World War Two. The story complains about the consequences of war. Firstly, because it explains how war destroyed every house placed there. Secondly, because it affected people emotionally. In the story, the children did not trust that something good could happen and wanted to destroy the only house that survived the war. The story does not tackle the causes of the war since it is placed after the war.

 

7) At the end of the story, the gang ended up destroying the whole house. When Old Misery was able to escape, he was devastated because of the destruction of the house. We believe that the author ended the story in that way to prove that nothing good could stand after a war.

 

8) At the end T. Reaches his goal. Old misery cannot escape the loo all night and only gets out when it’s too late. In the morning, a man came to get his cab from the car-park in front of the old house, and began to drive away not knowing what effect it would have. The car came to a jolting as if being pulled from behind, resulting in a disaster. The house falling in pieces to end having debris all over the place.

 

9) yes, it is true that on a deeper level the story is about delinquency, war, and the hidden forces which motivate our actions because it is strange to see some kids of 9-13 years in these kind of situations.

 

10) Ibelieve the destruction of Old misery’s house was more senseless than the destruction brought about war. The war had an aim, citizens fought together as brothers for the well being of their country, they gave their lives for their people, while what the kids did with Old misery’s home had no sense or aim, their only target was to destroy, and they took a life along with it.

 

11) Nihilism means the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless. The gang actions of the story demonstrate a kind of nihilism since the same protagonist are the ones who reject any belief or faith in something good. Plus, they do not have moral principles either. We can assume that because they destroyed the house of an old man who did not deserve what happened to him.

The Hollow of the Three Hills

Setting: 1800 during autumn. Area is secluded and enclosed by three hills. The surrounding forest is decaying.

Point of view: 3rd person

Themes: Regret, Guilt, Shame, Remorse, Sorrow, Grief, Dolefulness, Death, Dishonored, Betrayal

Mood: tension, grief, suspense

Characters:

  • Young woman, main character. She is described as a lady and graceful, but pale and troubled. There is foreshadowing in her description by saying that she is pale meaning that she is already dead. She is desperate and her guilt is killing her, she abandoned her son betraying her family and now he is dead. She made a treaty with the witch and gave her life to listen how her family was. “it is a place mortals cannot see” , if she is there it means she is dead and will not survive to tell this experience. She died still feeling guilty by her son`s death, “(…) left her child to die”.
  • The witch insultingly described as “the other” is and old woman. Wrinkled, shrunken and decrepit. She speaks old English and represents death, “withered crone”. “here has been a sweet hour’s sport!”, she does these treaties all the time, she takes lives all the time.
  • Her parents also appear, talking about her daughter feeling betrayed and embarrassed because of what she had done, and also mourning the loss of their grandchild.
  • Her husband, who is also angry at his wife accusing her of being unfaithful and mourning the loss of his child.

Summary:

A young woman seeks the help of a withered hag to learn what has happened to her parents, husband and child whom she abandoned to commit sin. She finds that her parents are-broken hearted, her husband distraught and her child dead. She herself dies on the spot.

Home is So Sad

Comment closely on how the writers of ‘Rooms’ and ‘Home is So Sad’ deal with the double meaning of ‘rooms’ in the poems.

 

The poems ‘Rooms’ and ‘Home is So Sad’ deal with two different meanings of ‘rooms’ in the poem. On the one hand, the word rooms in the poem by Charlotte Mew symbolizes security, comfort, privacy and having your own space where you can be just yourself with your thoughts. On the other hand, rooms in “Home is So Sad” are described at the beginning as empty, abandoned, desolated and unhappy.

 

To begin with, the poem “Rooms” written by Charlotte Mew tackles with a woman who uses places to describe romantic relationships. She describes each of the relationship as a room and explains how they affected on her life. During the poem, she enters different rooms. The poem deals with sadness mixed with happiness, since she remembers her worthy relationships but at the same time they are not there anymore. We can see this when the author uses the word “I remember” showing the readers how nostalgic the tone is.

Mew tells us about many relationships. “The room in Paris, the room at Geneva”. In spite of the fact that they were good memories, Charlotte makes clear that everything ended. “Rooms where for good or for ill—things died.”.

Contrarily, in the last stanza, Charlotte Mew confesses the readers the relationship that she still misses. With bitterness, she remembers this relationship more than any other she had. “But there is the room where we (two) lie dead”.

Charlotte Mew, by writing about her most precious relationships of her life, wanted to symbolise how we spent most of our lives in rooms. Mew pointed out and described what was important and special to her, but she made clear that most, or some, of the experiences that we really enjoy happen in our rooms. Each one of us, as different from one another as we are, has a room with its own experience and background. Therefore, rooms are so powerful that can show our identity.

 

On the other hand Philip Larkin, instead of describing important relationships of his life, writes about a home that was abandoned by their previous owners. With disappointment, he compares the previous house with this new modern building.

To start with, the title of the poem transmits the readers the main theme and message. By using alliteration, ‘So Sad’, readers can understand the importance that message being conveyed. The word sadness quickly transmits to the readers a feeling of loss, fear and nostalgia.

During the poem, while the writer describes how the house is ‘shaped to comfort of the last to go’ the voice realises how home will always be home, and there is no place like it.  ‘You can see how it was’. The voice comes to the conclusion that the rooms might be different, but they give them the same sensation that they did before.

Just as Charlotte Mew, Philip Larkin leaves us a message. Every house is individual and special to the owner, he misses his old house as much as Mew misses the memories of the relationships she enjoyed in those rooms. Anyhow, Larkin teach us one other thing too. No matter how changed the house is, the previous owner will always feel comfortable there, since it is home.

 

Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. Both of the writer conveyed the same message about what home means. However, Mew uses experiences to describe the security of a room and how much time you spend on it while Larkin describes desolated rooms and uses a voice to conclude that despite the changes home is home.

 

Rooms by Charlotte Mew

Charlotte Mew biography:

  • Born: November 15, 1869
  • Death: March 24,1928
  • Mew’s life was largely unhappy.
  • Two of her brothers died in infancy and another in boyhood, and a brother and sister were committed to mental hospitals at a young age.
  • Mew and her sister Anne vowed to remain childless so as not to transmit what they believed to be a family disorder.
  • Sexually repressed
  • She was poor
  • She commited suicide

 

Room symbolism:

Room can be a symbol of captivity and brutality. On the other hand, it could symbolize security.  

 

Activity 1:

Questions:

  1. The life of turn-of-the-twentieth-century British writer Charlotte Mew was full of tragedy from beginning to end. Mew was born in London in 1869 into a family of seven children; she was the eldest daughter. While she was still a child, three of her brothers died. Later, another brother and then a sister were committed to mental hospitals in their twenties where they would spend the rest of their lives. That left only Charlotte and her sister Anne, both of whom, because of the history of mental illness in their family, decided never to marry so they wouldn’t pass the traits on to their children. The traumatic issues Mew grappled with during her childhood—death, mental illness, loneliness, and disillusionment—became themes in her poetry and stories.
  2. K
  3. We begin with the poetic voice immersing us in a nostalgic look back at the relationships that have played a part in her life. These are positioned as things that have slowed her heart, which could be taken as a negative, but that I would suggest represent love progressing from something fiercely passionate to a more sedate and comforting emotion.

    Relationships are imagined as rooms, I’ll explore why in the next section. In each room there seem to positive memories, but her nostalgia is disturbed from the realities of the problems within the relationships that brought them to an end.

    The final four line reflect on the final relationship or room that is much more substantial than those of memory. The poem becomes personal as ‘we’ are addressed telling us that this is meant for this lover. Although she talks about them being ‘dead’, I think this is meant to represent the end of the emotional turmoil of seeking love and rather represents the finality of the relationship – no chance of adding another room to her house. Within this relationship we have flashes of the passion that was a precursor to a deeper love, but it is the stability and security of the relationship that is really focused upon.

    1. “Rooms where for good or for ill, things died”
    2. “Through every morning we seem to wake and might just as well seem to sleep again”
  4. The opening of the poem is deeply nostalgic, with brief flashes of forgotten joy mingled with remembered bitterness. However, these diametrically opposed memories are quickly washed over with reason that stems from the joy of having a secure, stable and fully realised loved. The last four lines are a happy recall from nostalgia to the joy of today.
  5. The theme could denote how we spend our lives essentially in rooms, and each room has its own experience and background which ultimately shapes our identity and future. Alternatively, and in addition, the rooms we spend our time in could eventually shape our personalities and identities and therefore the word rooms is used as the setting or context in which we spend the majority of our lives.  Moreover, the tone of the poem is nostalgia (“I remember”) and sorrowfulness mixed with joy, its something the author misses and remembers. Something thats no longer there, something that had died.

 

Activity 2: