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Identify the main theme of the story "The Destructors" by Graham Greene.

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vinish | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted March 10, 2013 at 8:50 AM via web

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Identify the main theme of the story "The Destructors" by Graham Greene.

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

Posted March 10, 2013 at 1:05 PM (Answer #1)

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Greene's story contains different themes that could be seen as important to its overall meaning.  I would suggest that one of these themes is how power is fluid in the modern setting.  Power is shown to be a fluid construct both within the gang and in the world in which the children inhabit.  The meeting place of the gang as a hollowed out parking lot, bombed and destroyed, is a reflection of how power and authority, itself, not a totalizing and static reality.  Like the bombs that drop and destroy, power is constantly remaking itself.  Blackie's role of power in the gang is challenged with T.'s desire to destroy Thomas' house.  This shift in power, and eventually the shift back to Blackie, is reflective of Greene's main point about power.  It changes.  It is a fluid concept.  It is not absolute and static in its perception.  

At the same time, I think that power is shown to be something far from totalizing and constant.  Mr. Thomas shows this in his experience.  He starts off the narrative believing that he has power only to find that he has been locked into a bathroom and discarded, his voice silent. When he is released, he finds his house destroyed.  Reflective of how his power has disappeared, the lorry driver laughs at Mr. Thomas' misfortune, indicating that it is "nothing personal."  In this light, Mr. Thomas' predicament highlights how power is fluid.  His life has changed from at one point possessing it, and now is in a position where it is absent from his own being.  It is something that has gone from his being and his struggle is adapting to a life where there is no power of which to speak.  Power is shown to be a shifting quality, and one that makes one's life difficult to endure without it.  It is here in which the shift of power and its fluid quality can be seen as a main theme of Greene's work.

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