The Destructors - A Literary Analysis
Graham Greene’s portrayal of human nature, as seen in his 1954's literary piece “The Destructors,” conveys the idea that people have the instinctive ability to distinguish, and make a conscience choice, between what they believe to be good and evil. This message is clearly projected by the characters and their actions, guided by the invisible hand that is one of the central themes of the short story: that children born to a traumatized society will grow rebellious.
Set in the post-World War II London, England, Greene uses a gang of pre-teen boys, who fancy calling themselves the “Wormsley Common gang,” as the medium for presenting this idea. He illustrates, above all else, that peoples’ actions are greatly determined by their surroundings. Because of their destroyed setting, it becomes normal for them to be destructive themselves.
Experiencing first hand the havoc inflicted by the war, Greene’s characters follow the only example set forth and make similar destructive choices. The boys in “The Destructors” are still youthful enough to keep their innocence, yet they become cruel and selfish in their decisions.
Also touching upon the discepencies of human nature, Greene embellishes on the classic motive of fame and glory, as when the boys take on their biggest challenge
and plot to destroy one of the last houses spared from the carnage of battle. They have no justification or rationale for doing so, solely focusing on and being satisfied with the promise of becoming something that will be forever remembered.
“Even the grown-up gangs who ran the betting at the all-in wrestling and the barrow-boys would hear with respect of how Old Misery’s house had been destroyed.”
Another prevailing theme of Greene’s “The Destructors,” is one that is identified easily while in the boys’ mind-set: that destruction is a form of creation.