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Transcript of The Destructors
By: Graham Greene
a character whose behaviour, attitutude, and opinions contrast those of the protagonist. This contrast helps the reader understand the motivation of the protagonist.
The character in The Destructors who serves as a foil is Blackie in the first half of the story. As mentioned, Blackie merely wanted to "catch free rides" but T. came up with the plan to demolish Old Misery's house. This engaged the rest of the gang and the shift of power went from Blackie, the leader, to T. the once quiet recruit. Blackie was jealous, paranoid, uneasy, and being critical of T., but he conformed to T's idea in order to be a part of the possible fame that the gang would achieve.
He [Blackie] thought of going home, of never returning, of letting them all discover the hollowness of T.'s leadership, but suppose after all what T. proposed was possible - nothing like it had ever been done before (163)
The Destructors by Graham Greene is revolved around a group of young mischevious boys, who call themselves the Wormsley Commom Gang. This story is located in London, after World War II and the Blitz Bombing. Blackie, the original leader, insists on doing harmless crimes such as "getting free rides", but gets challenged by T. (Trevor) the newest recruit. Surrounded by destruction, the only thing remaining that reminds the boys of the mistakes of the old generation is No. 3, the house of Old Misery (Mr. Thomas) that survived the bombs. After taking a tour of the 18th century home, T. wants to destroy the house from the inside out. T., Blackie, and the rest of the gang come together to destroy Old Misery's home to achieve fame, excitement, and to get rid of the last symbol of the old generation's ways in society.
What was the practical joke played on Old Misery? Explain the significance of T's insistence on destroying things in a particular manner and on finishing the job?
Describe the changing roles and relationships of T. and Blackie in the gang.
Why is the gang so suspicious of Mr. Thomas' chocolates? What does this reveal about the gang's attitude towards authority and the older generation generally?
What do you consider to be the theme of the story?
The practical joke played on Old Misery was to destroy his house, from the inside out and to lock him into the loo. The significance to destroy it and to finish the job was to remove the last symbol of post war and the old generation from society.
Blackie is the original leader of the gang who puts effort into keeping the group intact. T, a former recruit, unofficially becomes the new leader of the gang with his determination and plan of destroying Old Misery's house.
Blackie feels betrayed, but wants to be a part of the plan to achieve fame. The relationship strengthens when the gang's confidence in T and his ideas dies down, and Blackie steps up to pull the group back together, gaining his authority of leader back.
The gang is suspicious of Mr. Thomas' chocolates as they see them as a bribe for the gang to stop bouncing balls on his wall. This reveals that the gang distrusts the older generation/authority and is prepared to defy them, even if they extend a hand of friendship. Distrust is shown when the gang comes up with outrageous assumptions such as "someone dropped them and [Mr. Thomas] picked them up" or "[Mr. Thomas] pinched 'em and then got in a bleeding funk".
Theme: Creation is a result of destruction
- "Destruction after all, is a form of creation" (165)
- after the destruction caused by WWII and the Blitz, the poor society in which No. 3 and the Wormsley Common gang existed was created
- while destroying the house, the members of the gang create more criminal-like identities for themselves in order to get fame and to impress adult gangs
- destroying the house created an opportunity for Old Misery to get rid of this "misery" and to create a new life for himself
- destroying the pounds (Old Misery's life savings) created their rules and limitations on committing crime
contrast between two elements that provides depth of meaning and impact. It is used to convey a meaning that contradicts its literal meaning in order to possibly achieve humour
when what takes place contrasts with what was expected/appropriate
when what a character says or believes contrasts with the truth
when what a character says constrasts with what the character actually means
T's dad used to be an architect and when T visits Mr. Thomas' house, he appreciates and values it, claiming it is a "beautiful house". However, T is the one who devises the plan to knock it down
Mr.Thomas arrives early from Bank Holiday and T convinves him that a child is stuck in the loo. Mr. Thomas states his horoscope says "Abstain from any dealings in first half of week. Danger of serious crash", which immediately becomes true as the door of the loo flew open and he fell, hitting his head
(verbal or situational irony)
Build a creation out of your given "broken" materials and explain to the class its function in society and/or significance.
The group with the best creation and explanation, wins a prize!
1. This character was told "If you don't shut your mouth, you'll get a frog down it": A. Blackie
2. Trevor's decision to wreck the house while recognizing its beauty is an example of: B. Trevor
3. This character is a foil to the protagonist: C. Irony
4. The destructive actions of the Womsley Common Gang are a symbol of: D. Mike
5. This character's dad was once an architect: E. Adolescent deliquence
6. What is the loo?
a) private toilet
b) garbage disposal
c) personal hut
7. What was the "something special" that T. was looking for?
a) Old Misery's goal
b) Old Misery's life savings
c) Old Misery's car keys
8. Where did the Wormsley Common Gang usually meet up every morning?
a) St. Paul's parking lot
b) Old Misery's garden
c) Impromptu car park
9. Who wasn't punctual on the first destruction day?
10. Who said the following quote: 'We'd be like worms, don't you see, in an apple. When we came out again, there'd be nothing there..."?
True or False
11. Blackie was the leader of the gang when they were destroying Mr. Thomas' house.
12. Mike was in charge to bring the big saw.
13. The house survived the Blitz and was 250 years old.
14. Mr. Thomas had rheumatics.
15. Old Misery offered the gang Skittles.
16. What was left as a result of Germany bombing London in the story?
17. Why didn't the gang accept Mr. Thomas' "bribe"?
18. What is the connection between T.'s plan to destroy the house and this quote: 'We'd be like worms, don't you see, in an apple. When we came out again there'd be nothing there..."?
19. Why did Blackie return to the meeting, after T. took over as the leader?
20. Why did T. burn the 70 pounds instead of stealing them?
1. D 11. F
2. C 12. F
3. A 13. F
4. E 14. T
5. B 15. F
6. A 16. No. 3/Old Misery's home
7. B 17. suspicious of where it came from
8. C 18. the gang destroyed the house from the inside, like how worms eat apples from the inside
9. B 19. Blackie wanted to be a part of the fame
10. B 20. T. didn't want to be a thief; against his values
Thank you for participating!
Short activity: Draw what you think Blackie or T will look like in 5 years