In "The Destructors" by Graham Greene, how does Mr. Thomas's house reflect the character of the postwar era?

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rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The house is a remarkable survivor of the blitz. Although its neighbors have been destroyed by a bomb, somehow this house avoided destruction. It's still standing, even though it leans badly and must be supported by wooden struts. The house also functions as a kind of symbol of the social upheaval going in in postwar Britain. Built by Christopher Wren, it's an architectural masterpiece that, like the rest of the country, is hanging by a thread, a last bit of beauty in an otherwise grim and bombed-out neighborhood. As such, it also becomes the occasion for a kind of class warfare that was also typical of the postwar era. Trevor, the new leader of the gang, comes from an educated family—his dad was an architect "come down in the world." It's Trevor's father that tells him the house was built by Wren, and that distinction makes it a target for Trevor's "anti-Architecture," the artful demolition of the house from the inside with the boys working like "worms inside an apple." In this way, the house and its fate suggest the "rottenness" of postwar Britain, as well as its lost grandeur and prestige; one has to laugh. As the truck driver says to Mr Thomas, who emerges from his outhouse to find his house a pile of rubble, "You got to admit it's funny."

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Thomas's house in "The Destructors" reflects the character of the postwar era in Britain (after World War II) because the house has been shattered by a bomb during the air raids carried out by the Nazis. Greene writes that the house "literally leaned, for it had suffered from the blast of the bomb and the side walls were supported on wooden struts." The neighborhood around it has been destroyed by incendiary bombs, so the house sticks up "like a jagged tooth." Though the house has architectural importance, as it was built by the famous architect Christopher Wren, its owner, Mr. Thomas, does not fix it. Instead, he uses a bathroom in a shed in the garden. This type of frugal living is also characteristic of postwar Britain, which experienced what was called "The Age of Austerity." The government was bankrupt from fighting the war, and people continued to be subject to rationing for many years after the end of the war.