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Analysis of the Destructors by Graham Greene

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Charuhasen Kumaraswamy

on 12 October 2013

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Transcript of Analysis of the Destructors by Graham Greene

Analysis of the Destructors by Graham Greene

Joe Power, Yahoo! Contributor Network

May 28, 2011 Share your voice on Yahoo!

When first reading “The Destructors”, by Graham Greene, one might think they are simply reading a tale of childhood mischief. However, like all valuable stories, there are deeper connections that must be made in order to understand the author’s motives. “The Destructors” tells the story of a gang of kids who aim to tear down an old man’s house. This is a bit disturbing; it is not something most kids would spend their free time doing, and starts to give the idea that the story is a depiction of something greater. Indeed, as we will discuss, Greene is using his characters to portray a microcosm of post-war Britain. Specifically, Greene targets two central themes within this microcosm. The most important is the transition of attitudes over generations. We will see that this transition is a harmful one, and this is due to Greene’s second concept of the destructive nature of mankind. The combination of destructive tendencies and this transition provides the reader with the story’s ultimate message: human attitudes are nearly impossible to change over time, and war can create a cascade of destructive generations to come.

To establish this message, Greene employs the use of an allegory. The story itself is not just representative of the words on the page, but something much more important. In this case, characters may be symbolic of particular people in society, but more accurately, the view into the character’s lives as children is symbolic of what they will become as adults. The conflicts that the characters undergo will be conflicts that they manage as adults, but on a different scale. For instance, the main conflicts for the kids are how to tear Old Misery’s house down in the most efficient manner, and who should be in charge of the initiative. As will be discussed further, this can be translated as tearing down a country in war, and selecting a general for troops. To the kids, the conflicts probably seem like games, but due to the allegorical nature of the story, we can see that when these kids mature, these same games will be reality.
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