The Destructors

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A driver who keeps his lorry in the lot near Mr. Thomas’s house. He unwittingly pulls down Old Misery’s house, after the boys tie one of the wooden struts propping the house up to the back of his lorry. After Mr. Thomas cries out in dismay at the destruction of his house, the lorry driver can’t stop himself from laughing, despite Old Misery’s obvious distress. The lorry driver’s laughter suggests that the boy’s hostility to the old pre-war world of strict social class, and their affinity for destruction, is shared more broadly by the community of people around them as well.

The lorry driver Quotes in The Destructors

The The Destructors quotes below are all either spoken by The lorry driver or refer to The lorry driver. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Class and a Changing World Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Destructors published in 1993.
Part 4 Quotes

'I'm sorry,' the driver said, making heroic efforts, but when he remembered the sudden check of his lorry, the crash of bricks falling, he became convulsed again. One moment the house had stood there with such dignity between the bomb-sites like a man in a top hat, and then, bang, crash, there wasn't anything left - not anything. He said, 'I'm sorry. I can't help it. Mr. Thomas. There's nothing personal, but you got to admit it's funny.'

Related Characters: The lorry driver (speaker), Mr. Thomas, or “Old Misery”
Related Symbols: Top Hat, Sounds of Destruction
Page Number: 22-23
Explanation and Analysis:

The driver has just freed Mr. Thomas from the lavatory, and now Mr. Thomas is seeing what has become of his house for the first time. Mr. Thomas is furious that the driver is laughing at his misfortune. When the driver says his laughter “isn’t personal,” that suggests that, like T., he does not hate Mr. Thomas or want to be cruel to him. Instead, the symbolic power of the house is so strong that the thrill of seeing it destroyed is enough to make both T. and the lorry driver forget that this destruction will have grave consequences for Mr. Thomas.

The lorry driver’s laughter also shows that the idea to destroy the house does not only hold appeal for rebellious adolescents. As the comparison to a man in a top hat illustrates, the house is a symbol of the rigid and now obsolete class structure of England’s past. For the lorry driver, who comes from the lower class, this house’s destruction represents a process going on throughout post-war British society. The relationship between different British classes is being transformed, and British society is becoming more egalitarian. But before this new world can be created, the old one symbolized by houses like Mr. Thomas’s must be destroyed. In a sense, the lorry driver is part of an entire society that is going through a kind of adolescence.


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The lorry driver Character Timeline in The Destructors

The timeline below shows where the character The lorry driver appears in The Destructors. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 4
Destruction and Creation Theme Icon
The lorry driver comes to the lot to get his lorry early the next morning. He can hear... (full context)
Class and a Changing World Theme Icon
Codes of Behavior Theme Icon
Destruction and Creation Theme Icon
Now aware of the shouting, the lorry driver goes to the outdoor lavatory and lets Mr. Thomas out. Mr. Thomas lets out a... (full context)