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You are watching: Destruction is a form of creation
The idea that destruction is a form of creation is drawn from the section of the story describing the end of the boys’ first day destroying Mr. Thomas’s house. The mood of the narration becomes distinctly philosophical in its description of the boys: “they worked with the seriousness of creators – and destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become.” The creative elements of destruction are expressed in several ways throughout the story.
First, the story points out that the sounds of destruction closely resemble the sounds of creation. While he is trapped in the lavatory, Mr. Thomas, who used to work supervising the building of homes, mistakes the sounds coming from his house for those produced by carpenters at work building a home.
Outside of the action taking place on Mr. Thomas’s property, the story is set on an empty parking lot created when bombs destroyed the houses that stood there prior to the war. The destruction of Mr. Thomas’s house expands the lot in which the boys meet daily, creating a larger gathering space for public use in a space where a private residence stood before.
Similarly, the social environment of the story was created through the destruction of the war. All the boys, but especially T., is a product of the new kinds of thinking that replaced the old social and political frameworks after the war. The boys operate democratically and, under T.’s influence, organize themselves so that their labor is as powerful and efficient as possible. These priorities reflect the political climate in England after war, when the Labour Party won an election for the first time on a platform appealing to common people and workers. The boys’ language, then, reflects the destruction of old class definitions and the political struggle then going on. England as a whole, and the Wormsley Common Gang in particular, hopes that the destruction wrought by the war will pave the way for new groups to assert their political rights for the first time.
Yet the story leaves it entirely to the reader’s imagination how the boys’ destruction of Mr. Thomas’s house will impact each character’s future. T., for instance, has allowed himself to be seen by Mr. Thomas so that he could lead him to the lavatory and trap him there. It seems likely, then, that T. will be caught and punished, entailing that this act of destruction creates a new reputation for him that will change the way the world sees him, and perhaps the way he sees himself. As the other boys grow up, they will need to think of new ways to understand the cruel act that they committed when still boys. It is Mr. Thomas’s fate which may be the exception that proves the rule. It seems likely that the destruction of his home, all his possessions and his life savings may prove to be a disaster that he cannot weather. Far from creating the next chapter in his life, this destruction may very well prove to be the blow that destroys him entirely. Destruction can be a force of creation in that it creates a blank slate upon which new things – whether parking lots or political movements – can grow. Yet destruction becomes an act of creation only for individuals and societies young and innovative enough to move forward and build something new out of the rubble.