The Destructors

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Mr. Thomas’s Lavatory Symbol Analysis

Mr. Thomas’s Lavatory Symbol Icon

Mr. Thomas’s lavatory is another symbol of the impracticality of the upper classes and their tendency to cling to obsolete things and values. Mr. Thomas’s training as a decorator means he can take care of his house, but he lacks the skills of a plumber because that was a profession for a man of a lower class. Mr. Thomas would rather undergo the inconvenience of going outside to use the bathroom than pay to make his plumbing functional again. Using the outdoor toilet, Mr. Thomas clings to a history that precedes his birth, back when Christopher Wren built the house in the 1700s and modern indoor plumbing was not yet available. Rather than value his house as a convenient and comfortable place to live, Mr. Thomas appreciates the way that it ties him to the past, when the rules of class were still unchallenged. The fact that Mr. Thomas is locked in his lavatory during his home’s destruction further suggests that this attempt to cling to vestiges of the past is futile and self-defeating.

Mr. Thomas’s Lavatory Quotes in The Destructors

The The Destructors quotes below all refer to the symbol of Mr. Thomas’s Lavatory. 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 3 Quotes

After a while it seemed to him that there were sounds in the silence – they were faint and came from the direction of his house. He stood up and peered through the ventilation-hole – between the cracks in one of the shutters he saw a light, not the light of a lamp, but the wavering light that a candle might give. Then he thought he heard the sound of hammering and scraping and chipping. He thought of burglars - perhaps they had employed the boy as a scout, but why should burglars engage in what sounded more and more like a stealthy form of carpentry?

Related Characters: Mr. Thomas, or “Old Misery”
Related Symbols: Mr. Thomas’s Lavatory, Sounds of Destruction
Page Number: 20-21
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Thomas’s out-of-date expectations for how people will act and how the world works have given the boys the means to trick and trap him in his outdoor lavatory. Now he is listening to the sounds coming from inside his house and trying to understand their significance. His professional background as a builder prepared him to hear the noises tools produce and interpret those noises are the sounds of something being created, never considering that they could also be used to destroy. This failure of the imagination is the result of his proud dedication to the traditional. He has no conception of why anyone might want to destroy a house, because he doesn’t share the deep resentment harbored among many in England towards the symbols of the past.

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Mr. Thomas’s Lavatory Symbol Timeline in The Destructors

The timeline below shows where the symbol Mr. Thomas’s Lavatory appears in The Destructors. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Class and a Changing World Theme Icon
Money and the Value of Things Theme Icon
Adolescence, Age, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...for the repairs, so he must go outside to use the toilet in an outdoor lavatory. On one occasion, Old Misery looks over the wall at the boys as they play. (full context)
Part 3
Class and a Changing World Theme Icon
Codes of Behavior Theme Icon
...watch the front of the house. Mike is told to go stand near Old Misery’s lavatory and yell. (full context)
Class and a Changing World Theme Icon
Codes of Behavior Theme Icon
Money and the Value of Things Theme Icon
...hurries Mr. Thomas, who can hear the cries of the boy supposedly locked in the lavatory. By rushing him along, T. gets the old man to climb over his own garden... (full context)
Codes of Behavior Theme Icon
Money and the Value of Things Theme Icon
Destruction and Creation Theme Icon
Arriving at the outdoor lavatory, Mr. Thomas asks what is wrong, but receives no reply from the boy inside. T.... (full context)
Part 4
Adolescence, Age, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...the boys slips Mr. Thomas a blanket and some food through a hole in the lavatory door. Mr. Thomas asks to be let out so he can sleep comfortably, saying he... (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 sob when he sees the... (full context)