Hi! I’ve been working with Martina Ibarbia, Milagros Mendez and Rosario Vago on these questions on “The destructors”
Rite of passage
- An object of desire
- Trespassing (Defying authority)
- “Dare/Challenge (Construction of identity)
- The mischief (it should be owned up and dealt with in a mature way)
- Atonement (Confesion and regret, acceptance)
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.