How is suspense created in the story "The Destructors?"

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Greene builds suspense by keeping Trevor's (or T's) plan a secret from the reader until the middle of the story. T. is a man of few words; as Greene writes, his "words were almost confined to voting 'Yes' or 'No' to the plan of operations proposed each day by Blackie." For a while, T. goes along with Blackie's plans, and then he suddenly suggests the plan to take apart Old Misery's house in a very subtle way, while "he looked at the ground, as though he had thoughts to hide." It takes a great deal of coaxing from the other gang members to get T. to admit his plan to pull down the house, while he "raised his eyes, as grey and disturbed as the drab August day." 

There is nothing explosive or dramatic about T. In his shy, drab way, he announces the plan to have the Wormsley Common Gang tear down Old Misery's house. The slow and subtle way he takes over the gang from Blackie and announces his plans to tear down the house build suspense. At the beginning of the story, all the reader knows is that T. is interested in the house, but the reader does not know what T. plans to do with the house. It is the slow unraveling of his plans that builds suspense. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the ways in which suspense is built is through the fear that the boys might not be able to complete their task of completely destroying Old Misery's house. Note how T. responds to the news that Old Misery has returned early and how this shakes his leadership:

‘Watch the back too.’ T began to plead. ‘Just give me a minute and I’ll fix it. I swear I’ll fix it.’ But his authority had gone with his ambiguity. He was the only one of the gang. ‘Please,’ he said.

It is only the support of Blackie that prevents the boys deserting T. and leaving the job half finished. The way in which the sudden early arrival of Old Misery puts the project in jeopardy however greatly raises the tension in this story as we begin to fear, like T. and the boys do, that they will not be able to complete the total and utter destruction of the house that they had planned.