Why did the gang want to destroy Mr.Thomas' house in The Destructors by Graham Greene?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The allure and appeal of destroying Mr. Thomas' house in the "The Destructors" for the Wormsley Common gang is two-fold.  First, the boys want to destroy the house because of what it represents.  Old Misery's house is the only one left standing in a long row of bombed out houses.  The narrator suggests that "once the house had stood there with such dignity between the bomb sites like a man in a top hat."  The refined, grand nature of Mr. Thomas' house rankles the members of the Wormsley Common gang, because of what it represents--refinement, higher society, a more genteel era.  Many of these things are out of reach for the children in this gang; working with the idea of "if I cannot have it, no one should," the children, led by Trevor, pull the house down.

The boys also want to destroy Old Misery's house to build a name for themselves, to increase their notoriety with the other street gangs.  Blackie ponders the possibility of demolishing the house:

"The fame of the Wormsley Common car park gang would surely reach around London. There would be headlines in the papers. Even the grown-up gangs who ran the betting at the all-in wrestling and the barrow-boys would hear with respect of how Old Misery’s house had been destroyed."

The destruction of Old Misery's house served two purposes for the boys of the Wormsley Common gang: ridding themselves of an unsightly reminder of social class and garnering fame and a tougher reputation for their gang.

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