Identify the conflicts of "The Destructors" by Graham Greene.

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Conflicts in "The Destructors" by Graham Greene include conflict between the gracious pre-war world and the new world of devastation all around the boys, class conflict as the working-class boys experience discomfort with a home that represents upper-class tastes and oppressions, and inner conflict as the boys destroy a home they both hate and grudgingly admire.

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A main conflict in the story is between the old, ordered, pre-World War II way of life and the literal leveling and destruction the Wormsley Common Gang see all around them in the aftermath of the war.

In the early 1950s, London had still hardly been rebuilt after the massive destruction of the repeated bombings it endured in World War II. One house, however, stands tall amid the bombed rumble: a carefully maintained architectural treasure designed and built by Christopher Wren, who also designed St. Paul's cathedral.

When T calls the house beautiful, which he has toured simply by asking the owner to see it, Blackie, the head of the gang, feels uneasy:

It was the word 'beautiful' that worried him—that belonged to a class world that you could still see parodied at the Wormsley Common Empire by a man wearing a top hat and a monocle, with a haw-haw accent.

The boys decide to vandalize and destroy this architectural treasure—and succeed in doing so.

This act represents multiple levels of conflict. By doing this, the boys put themselves in conflict with the law. They also put themselves in conflict with the ideals of the past. As Blackie's discomfort with the word "beautiful" indicates, they want to destroy that past. While not stated overtly, the implication is that the boys hold the values of the past responsible for the present devastation in which they live. The past has a deceptive and an ambivalent beauty that has to be destroyed. This destruction, however, puts the boys in conflict with themselves: they are destroying a house they also grudgingly admire.

As the above quote about the top hat suggests, the lower class boys additionally feel in conflict with the English class system that has oppressed them: in destroying the house, they symbolically attempt to destroy class distinctions. When the truck driver who unwittingly aids in the destruction laughs and thinks it is funny, this also represents a class conflict: the ascendant new working class doesn't understand the values of the old world.

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The famous short story "The Destructors" by Graham Greene tells of a group of boys called the Wormsley Common Gang in Blitz-ravaged London in the 1950s who decide to destroy the house of an elderly man they've nicknamed Old Misery.

Conflict is an element in literature brought about by obstacles or challenges that the main characters have to overcome to reach their goals. Conflict can be either internal or external, depending on the nature of the narrative.

In "The Destructors," the primary goal of the gang members is to destroy the old house, so their main conflict is with Old Misery, the owner of the house. This conflict is established early on when the boys refuse Old Misery's offer of chocolate. Trevor, nicknamed T, forms a temporary truce when he asks Old Misery to show him the house. After this, though, the gang and Old Misery are antagonists, and the story's main conflict involves the gang's efforts to get Old Misery out of the way so they can accomplish the demolition.

Another significant conflict within the story is the rivalry between Blackie and T for the leadership of the gang. In the beginning, Blackie is the clear leader, but after T's suggestion to destroy the house, T takes over the leadership when Blackie becomes fearful of the deed's consequences. This works into the larger conflict of thwarting Old Misery and demolishing the house, as the gang cannot move forward until the leadership situation is clarified.

A further implied and indirect conflict is with the parents of the individual boys. Some of the boys have to make up excuses about where they are going or leave at various times to placate their parents.

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One of the conflicts in "The Destructors" is about who will lead the Wormsley Common gang. To date, Blackie has run the gang, and he has devoted his gang to activities such as getting free rides on buses. However, over time, Trevor, or T. as he is known, becomes the leader of the gang and devotes the gang to different types of activities.

Another conflict that T. introduces into the gang is that of class. He is clearly from a higher class than the rest of the gang, as his father, now a clerk, used to be an architect, and "his mother considered herself better than the neighbors." When T. describes Old Misery's house as "beautiful," another member of the gang reacts to his wording. Blackie thinks:

"It was the word 'beautiful' that worried him—that belonged to a class world that you could still see parodied at the Wormsley Common Empire by a man wearing a top hat and a monocle, with a haw-haw accent."

T. clearly comes from a higher class, and he interjects the question of class and of how people speak into the gang.

In addition, T. devotes the gang to destroying the house in a process that involves the ultimate conflict of creation versus destruction. As the gang destroys the house, they are creating something new. The question is whether they are actually destructive if they are creative. As Greene writes, "destruction after all is a form of creation." The conflict is whether the gang is engaging in a crime or in a form of rebirth as they take apart the old house. 

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The central conflict in Graham Greene's short story "The Destructors" revolves around the Wormsley Common gang's desire to destroy Mr. Thomas' grand old house next door.  Trevor, or T as his fellow gang-members call him, create an elaborate scheme to destroy Old Misery's house from the inside out.  The boys plan their schedules, work tools, and set their plan in motion when Mr. Thomas leaves for a bank holiday. 

The conflict of the boys working to destroy the house can be seen as two different types of conflict:  man vs. society or man vs. environment.  The boys' destruction of Old Misery's house is their way of making a statement to society and their neighborhood; it is their way of making a name for themselves and building notoriety.  The Wormsley Common gang does not approve of what the fine, old house represents--a more genteel time of sophistication and higher social class conventions. 

The conflict of the boys' destructive plan is also suggestive of man vs. environment; the boys battle the inner workings of the house, the plumbing, the paneling, the electrical wiring, all in an attempt to bring Old Misery's house down.

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