In our Literature class, we read the story “The destructors”. After this, Pat told us to select five questions from her blog and answer them. I worked with Tomás Braun and these are our questions.
- What do you see as the central theme of this story? Remember: a theme is not simply a subject like “love”. It is a fuller expression of what an author is trying to suggest about this subject. Write a paragraph explaining your interpretation of this story’s theme.(tomy)
- Identify three important conflicts present in the story. Explain what exactly is causing the problem—and whether they are internal or external in nature. Finally, explain which of these conflicts seems to the central problem.(mati)
- Of what significance is the setting of this story in blitzed London? Does the story have anything to say about the consequences of war? About the causes of war?(mati)
- On the surface this is a story of action, suspense, and adventure. At a deeper level it’s about delinquency, war, and the hidden forces which motivate our actions. Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.(tomy)
- Research a definition of the philosophy of nihilism. How might the Wormsley Common Gang’s actions in the story demonstrate a kind of nihilism?(tomy)
1- In our opinion, the central theme is loss of innocence, as despite of being just children they carry out such a rebellious and criminal act. Kids of their age are meant to play games and be with friends, but instead they are converting a real house in ruins. Moreover, a factor that contributed to this is the Second World War, as it introduces the children to the cruelty and reality of the world at a very young age, so because of this they weren’t innocent at the time of destructing Mr. Thomas’ house.
2- The first conflict which can be identified in this story is the problem of leadership and who directs the gang. Originally and before Trevor arrived the gang, the leader was Blackie who used to command every activity of the gang, by carrying out plans and giving orders to the members of it. However, when Trevor arrived, the members started to like him and how he thought. He finally took the leadership when he had the plan and idea to destroy old misery’s house. This conflict of leadership is an external conflict as it involves to people for this wrest for leading the gang. Another conflict is construction VS destruction. Throughout the story there’s a problem with this, as it’s shown the idea that destructions lead or even is construction. The war, in the city had ended and destroyed every existing house, except for Old Misery´s house. The gang wanted to destroy the house, to end with what war had started, and in this way not only end war but also starting and constructing all over again. This problem is external as it refers to war, it´s consequences on the city and how to end war and rebuild the city(destroying the last house which had survived). The last conflict present in the story is Trevor´s internal conflict with himself. He, had belonged to a well-educated and common family, which did not suffer from economic issues. However, he wanted to belong and participate in this gang, so he started to do things improper of him. It´s an internal conflict as he is struggling with himself to belong to the group, doing things he wasn’t used to do in the past.
3- The setting of the story is important, as London was bombed during WW2, and this war had caused a massive destruction. In the story, it’s of great importance, as the bombing had lead to the destruction of every house, except Old Misery’s house. In the story, s it goes on, the gang decides and plans to destroy this house. This symbolizes the idea of destroying everything which was left, in order to leave war behind, starting all over again. For this reason, the setting of the story and how it was affected by bombing in WW2 refers to this idea of constructing with destruction.
4-These are as important as the other themes, as they are the factors of the story which contribute to the destruction of Mr. Thomas’ house. Throughout the story, the boys felt the necessity of destroying the house for no reason, being a clear act of cruelty and vandalism.
5-Nihilism is the denial of any religious or moral values. This philosophy has a lot to do with the story, as it is what the kids undergo when destroying the house. When they carried out the horrible act, they didn’t care about what consequences it could bring, and also the repercussions it would bring to Mr. Thomas. Moreover, the boys follow this philosophy because they live in a society in which destroying a house and capturing a man is something that children are capable of doing.