In "The Destructors" By Graham Greene, what is the point of view?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Graham Greene utilizes a third-person omniscient narrator to tell the story of how the gang of boys destroys Old Misery's home, which happens to be the only house still standing in Wormsley Common after the bombings of WWII.

Third-person omniscient point of view is when the narrator knows the thoughts, feelings, and backgrounds of all the characters in a story. Third-person omniscient narration allows the author to explain each character's thoughts, emotions, and motivations, which helps develop each character by giving them depth and meaning. Throughout the short story "The Destructors," Greene's use of third-person omniscient narration is evident by the use of the personal pronoun "him" and the informative background knowledge of each character and their specific situations. Greene also provides insight into the feelings of the collective group. One example of this takes place when Mr. Thomas offers the boys some candy. Greene writes,

The gang was puzzled and perturbed by this action and tried to explain it. (2)

By using a third-person omniscient narrator, Greene depicts the emotions and inner thoughts of multiple characters. After T. becomes the leader of the group, Blackie's thoughts are revealed when Greene writes,

Blackie was dimly aware of the fickleness of favor. He thought of going home, of never returning, of letting them all discover the hollowness of T.’s leadership, but suppose after all what T. proposed was possible nothing like it had ever been done before. (6)

Unlike third-person limited narration, when only one character's thoughts and feelings are depicted, omniscient narration allows for a wider scope, which develops more characters and provides deeper insight into every character in the story.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The point of view of “The Destructors” is third person omniscient. 

In a third person omniscient story, the narrator is an uninvolved third party who can share the thoughts of several different characters.  This keeps the reader at a distance, and prevents any character from dominating the story.

You can tell that the story is third person from the use of third person pronouns like “he” and names.  Sometimes there are no character names used at all.

The gang were puzzled and perturbed by this action and tried to explain it away. “Bet someone dropped them and he picked ’em up,” somebody suggested.

The narrator often refers to the boys collectively, or allows one or two of them to talk.  None of the characters share their opinions exclusively, and we are not limited to just the feelings of the boys.

“I’m sorry,” the driver said, making heroic efforts, but when he remembered the sudden check to his lorry, the crash of bricks falling, he became convulsed again.

The use of the driver’s point of view adds to the story by heightening the irony.  The fact that the driver finds the destruction of the rebuilt house so funny provides a new perspective for the reader.

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