How effective do you find the ending with the driver and his convulsive laughter "The Destructors"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Some readers have been infuriated that the driver found his inadvertent pulling of the structural beam which caused the house to fall down "funny"; they would have liked him to have been sympathetic to Old Misery. But, critics feel that the driver's finding only amusement at this destruction is evidence of how prevalent the effects of World War II have been upon the London residents. Certainly, they acquired a certain numbness toward destruction. Because the man is a truck driver,he is representative of the attitudes of the lower class: "utter indifference to the sacrosanct values of tradition and civilized society." [enotes]

That people have been negatively affected by the horrors and destruction of war is evidenced with the appearance of Trevor, whose father has "come down."  For, this boy from the upper class should have respect for the property of other things, but, instead, he is nihilistic and anarchistic. And, yet, there are traces of his upper class upbringing when he tells the others that no one will steal, an indication that the remnants of morality are yet in him:

"We aren't thieves," T. said, "Nobody's going to steal anything from this house. I kept these for you and me--a celebration....We'll burn them...one by one..."

T.'s morality, of course, is distorted as he destroys the house and destroys the money by burning it.

It is destruction, then, that is the norm for the London boys and truck driver, proving that people can become used to anything and numb to others. In this sense, the ending is effective, albeit disturbing. 

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