The next day, Blackie has difficulty locating the tools he has promised to bring, and arrives late. The weather is changing, and it looks like it will rain that day or the next. The house seems abandoned as he approaches it and he wonders if the gang has given up on T.’s idea. But once he comes close, he can hear the sounds of destruction going on inside.
Blackie’s initial inability to hear the destruction is connected to his disbelief at the sudden shift that saw an end to his leadership. Properly interpreting the sounds of destruction symbolizes an understanding of the order of things.
Walking through the house, Blackie notices how methodically the boys are working to destroy everything from the floors to the banisters, while leaving the walls intact. T. is the only one not working, he is sitting in the non-functioning bathroom listening to the sounds of the destruction. T. instructs Blackie to destroy the bathroom, while also giving Mike new instructions to take everything out of the drawers and cabinets and destroy it, hacking into anything that’s locked. When Blackie asks T. what he will do himself, he replies that he is looking for something special to do.
The boys are organized, deliberate and focused in their destruction, all qualities usually attributed to creators. Meanwhile, T. is sitting in the bathroom doing nothing. He may be reflecting on the meaning of this rebellion for him in the context of his family’s lost class status and the priorities of his parents that have made his own home an unhappy one. (Though it is also interesting how those in leadership roles often end up not actually “doing the work,” which lightly hints that class divisions between those in power and those not are natural aspects of human society.)
As the morning progresses the boys move from the first to the second floor, and after sitting amidst the ruins eating unappealing sandwiches for lunch, they finish all the superficial damage to the floors, doors and furniture in the house. They agree to meet at eight the next morning, and everyone except Blackie and T. hops over the garden wall and goes home.
Once again, the story emphasizes the boys’ organization and focus, qualities accompanying destruction that resemble those usually attributed to creation. The destruction is also forging new social bonds between them.
T. shows Blackie the special thing he has found: seventy one-pound notes that Mike overlooked when he shredded Old Misery’s mattress. Blackie asks T. if he intends to share the money among the members of the gang, to which T. scornfully responds that they aren’t thieves.
This is the only private moment between two boys from the gang and it deepens the understanding and friendship between T. and Blackie. T also affirms that his code of behavior is against stealing.
Instead, T. says that he and Blackie should burn the notes as a celebration. They burn the notes one by one as gray ash “falls on their heads like age.” Blackie asks T. whether he hates Old Misery, but T. says that hate and love aren’t real, and all that matters are things. Blackie and T. leave the house and race each other home.
Although T. only states what does not motivate him – he is not a thief and does not hate Mr. Thomas –he considers burning money to be a celebration and says that things are all that matter. This suggests that T.’s rebellion targets the value placed on money and material possessions. The image of the ash turning the two boys’ young heads gray, meanwhile, focuses attention on their age and on the age of the elderly man their destruction may impoverish. The ash, which as a residue of fire symbolizes destruction, also shows how destruction alters the things around it and creates the world that will replace what is being destroyed. That the ash is settling on the boys’ heads subtly suggests that they too will be affected in some way by their actions – whether they’ll eventually feel guilt for what they’ve done or experience some similar kind of loss in their old age. The boy’s carefree, immature childishness in racing home after this stunning act again highlights their youth and immaturity, and by extension how little they understand the impact of what they are doing on either Mr. Thomas or themselves.