Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Amid the lingering London ruins of the bombing raids of World War II, a gang of adolescent boys pass their summer holidays carrying out various projects of collective mischief. They are the inhabitants of a neighborhood known as Wormsley Common, one of the poorest sections of the city. They meet and play in a communal parking lot, which adjoins a battered but stately eighteenth century house. The house, more than two hundred years old, stands alone, “like a jagged tooth,” while its neighbors lie in wartime rubble. Blackie, the hitherto undisputed leader, is indirectly challenged one day by the newest recruit, a boy known as “T.” From the time he first joined the group at the beginning of the summer, T. has had little or nothing to say, simply voting “yes” or “no” with the rest of this curiously democratic collection of children.
Now T. intrigues the boys with a plan of diabolic proportions, an enterprise far beyond any that Blackie could conceive. The house that adjoins their parking lot play area, T. has discovered, was built by Christopher Wren, Great Britain’s greatest architect. It was Wren who, in the late seventeenth century, designed and built Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the most notable of London landmarks. The sole inhabitant of the house is the owner, an elderly and somewhat cranky gentleman named Mr. Thomas, whom the boys call “Old Misery.”
T. has developed a curious fixation on the house. He gains entry by the...
(The entire section is 608 words.)
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‘‘The Destructors’’ is about a group of teenage boys who call themselves the Wormsley Common gang, after the area where they live. They meet every day in a parking lot near a part of town that was bombed during World War II. Almost everything in this area is destroyed although one house stands with minimal damage. This house is owned by Mr. Thomas (whom the boys call Old Misery), an old man who lives alone.
One day, the gang’s leader, Blackie, suggests that they spend the day sneaking free bus rides. T. (whose full name is Trevor) has another idea. He has been inside Mr. Thomas’s house and suggests that the boys take advantage of the old man’s upcoming two-day absence to demolish the house from the inside. T. becomes the gang’s new leader.
When the boys meet at the appointed time the next morning, T. has already organized his directions for the boys to demolish the house. By the end of the day, the house is in shambles: the floors are torn up, the fixtures are smashed, the electrical cords are all cut, and doors are destroyed. After everyone but Blackie has left, T. shows him ‘‘something special,’’ Mr. Thomas’s savings of seventy one-pound notes. T. explains that he and Blackie will burn the notes one at a time to celebrate. After they are finished, they go home.
The next day, the boys meet again at the house to complete the destruction. They take out the staircase, demolish the inner layers of wall, knock...
(The entire section is 411 words.)