Compare and Contrast the Destructors and the Rocking Horse Winner
Compare and Contrast the Destructors and the Rocking Horse Winner

Compare and Contrast the Destructors and the Rocking Horse Winner

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  • Pages: 3 (1348 words)
  • Published: October 6, 2017
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Graham Greene’s “The Destructor’s”, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Rocking Horse Winner” (Both stories reprinted in Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 9th ed. [Boston: Wadsworth] 111-124, 285-298) are two short stories set in post-war England. Despite the similarities of both stories set in post-war eras of Great Britain, the mood and physical settings are vastly different.

In fact, the stories each give differing amounts of details and clues about the setting.For instance, “The Destructors” setting is easily discernable, but in contrast, “The Rocking Horse Winner” gives only vague clues regarding the time and setting. Regardless of the differences in the amount of details given, the setting in which both stories are told play a key role in the actions of the main characters. Both stories are similar in that they convey a message of how the circumstances of life affect human nature. “The Destructors” setting is easily identifiable within the first few paragraphs. For instance, the opening line makes it clear the time of year is August, during the “August Bank Holiday” (111).

The phrase, “the last bomb of the first blitz” (112), written in the beginning of the fourth paragraph, is a clear reference to the World War II bombing of Britain (111). Finally, by the end of paragraph five we learn one of the central characters; Old Misery, or Mr. Thomas, lives in a house that was built by “Wren” (112). Wren is apparently the same man that designed St.

Paul’s Cathedral, a wel

...

l known London landmark (111). It is clear the story is set in war battered London. Furthermore, the author gives clues to a more exact time within the setting by revealing the age of the protagonist, T. to be fifteen (116) at the time of the setting, and also revealing that Blackie, another central character, was one year old at the time of the “first blitz” (112), which was between September 1940 and May 1941(111). Assuming Blackie and T.

to be about the same age argues strongly for the timing of the story to be about fourteen years after the start of World War II, or about nine years after the end of the war. However, the story delves further into the description of setting by narrowing the precise time and setting to a three day period in a seldom used car-park adjacent to the “shattered Northwood Terrace” (112).The author uses the shattered remains of the Northwood Terrace to further illustrate the destructive setting in which the story is told. Conversely, author D. H. Lawrence gives fewer details about the exact time and place in which the setting of “The Rocking Horse Winner” is set.

Unlike “The Destructors”, Lawrence only gives the reader a brief glimpse of time and setting. However, several clues suggest the setting is in the English countryside, sometime after the end of World War I. The use of British monetary terms, “pounds and schillings” (290), offers evidence the story is set in England.We know it is the countryside because Lawrence tells us “the mother went into town everyday” (293, 294). Additional clues to time and settin

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are vague.

The use of cars obviously places the time within the twentieth-century. The reference that Basset, one of the central characters, was wounded during the war, and the fact the story was written by Lawrence, who died in 1930, supports the view that the story is set in post World War I England. In contrast to the destructive setting of the “The Destructor’s”, the setting of “The Rocking Horse Winner” is one of physical beauty.The mother of Paul is described in the opening line as “beautiful”, and later in the same paragraph she is said to have “bonny” children, a term synonymous with beauty (285). The home in which the story is told is described as pleasant, complete with a garden.

The family has luxury items such as nice toys, a pleasant and quiet country home, and the family is said to have servants (286). The settings of both stories, while taking place in post war England, are obviously different. One is a setting of devastation and destruction, while the other is a setting of beauty and bounty. Not surprisingly then, the mood is also different in each story.The mood of “The Rocking horse Winner” is clearly stated as anxious as the author writes “Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money.

” The mood of anxiety remains constant throughout the story as Paul is ever anxious in trying to secure his mother’s love. Likewise, his mother is always anxious about never having enough money. But her anxiety is not centered on having enough money to provide for her family. Rather, her desire to have more money stems from a materialistic point of view to keep up her family’s social position.

The constant battle of anxiety in the story leads to a sad twist of fate. Though the family seemingly had many material possessions, there was never enough to satisfy Paul’s mother. She always wanted more, and when she was given more she desired to have more than what was given. Her desire to have more material possessions replaced her desire and ability to love her children. Paul recognizes his mother’s materialistic focus, and thus, “made him want to compel her attention. ”(288).

Tragically, Paul dies trying to provide financially for his mother, and at the same time to win the love of his mother’s heart.Despite having all the material comforts many people would long to have, the mother could not put aside her materialistic wants. The end result is the destruction of Paul’s young life. Conversely, the mood in “The Destructors” is not as clear.

The boys in the gang are clearly low in social status and lacking in material wealth. Yet, they show no desire to achieve such wealth, which is extremely evident in that the group did not steal from Old Misery when they had the opportunity. In fact, T. , who was described as having come down in society (112), burned the “bundles of pound notes” he had found in Old Misery’s mattress (118).Thus, there is a mood of acceptance for who they are and their

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