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Graham Greene gives an unusual ending to the story "The Destructors." Discuse the...

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emofreak | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 16, 2012 at 4:24 PM via web

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Graham Greene gives an unusual ending to the story "The Destructors." Discuse the significance of such an ending.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 31, 2012 at 12:51 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that part of the significance of the ending is that it helps to bring out the reality of the world following the wanton destruction that was the child of World War II.  The effect of the bombing on London is evident.  There is nothing but destruction that surrounds the people of London.  Being exposed to this on a consistent basis makes such destruction a part of their being.  There is a lack of emotional affect in such a condition, seeing destruction as a daily part of existence.  This is why the boys are able to contemplate the destruction of the house in a such an easy manner, being able to do so without much in way of emotional reflection.  Greene seems to be suggesting that it might be easy to lay this solely at the foot of the youth.  Yet, the reaction of the drive to Mr. Thomas' "sobbing cry" reflects how empty so much of society has become as a result of the war.  When the driver recalls the destruction of the house, he is only able to laugh at its destruction.  The ending effect of this is a world devoid of personal connection.  Consider the closing words of the story:  "I'm sorry.  I can't help it, Mr. Thomas.  There's nothing personal, but you got to admit it's funny."  This line reflects how society has been constructed as a result of the bombing as "nothing personal."  It is this ending in which Greene has been able to develop a thematic element in which one sees how the world has changed, shifted from a setting where emotional attachments were either valued or understood to one in which there is "nothing personal."  In this void of personal connection, destruction becomes easy and something to which laughter and derisive division is morally acceptable.

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