1. Who is the protagonist in this story--Trevor, Blackie, or the gang? Who or what is the antagonist? Identify the conflicts of the story.
2. How is suspense created?
3. This story uses the most common basic formula of commercial fiction: protagonist aims at goal, is confronted with various obstacles between himself and his goal, overcomes the obstacles and achieves the goal. How does this story differ from commercial fictionin its use of this formula? Does the story have a happy ending?
4. Discuss the gang's motivations, taking into account
(a) the age and beauty of the house
(b) Blackie's reasons for not going home after losing his position of leadership
(c) the seriousness with which the gang work at their task, and their loss of concern over their leadership
(d) the burning of the banknotes
(e) their consideration for Old Misery
(f) the lorry driver's reaction
5. Of what significance, if any, is the setting of this story in blitzed London? Does the story have anything to say about the consequences of war? About the causes of war?
6. Explain as fully as you can the gang's delinquency, taking into account
(a) their reaction to the name Trevor
(b) their reaction to Old Misery's gift of chocolate
(c) Blackie's reaction to the word "beautiful"
(d) Trevor's comments on "hate and love"
(e) Summer's reaction to the word "Please"
(f) the setting
7. What good qualities do the delinquents in this story have? Do they differ as a group from other delinquent gangs you have read or know about? If so, account for the difference. "Just" within the group,
8. On the surface this is a story of action, suspense, and adventure. At a deeper level it is about delinquency, war, and human nature. Try to sum up what the story says about human nature in general. (Consider the paragraphs 94 and 102.)
9. Vivid images help suggest meaning in the story. What symbolic significance is suggested by the following image: "The grey ash [from burnt bank notes] floated above them and fell on their heads like age" (par.100)? Although Old Misery's house is described as being beautiful on the inside, the author narrator also tells us that "the house stuck up like a jagged tooth" (par. 4) and that it was a "crippled house" (par.7). Why? The narrator twice uses the image of a man wearing a top hat. When and to what effect?