What are the conflicts in Graham Greene's "The Destructors"?

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first overt conflict to be introduced in "The Destructors" is between Blackie, the gang leader, and Trevor, the new recruit who usurps Blackie's position with his audacious plan to tear down Old Misery's house. It is perhaps first revealed when T, as Trevor prefers to be called, arrives late at the gang's rendezvous point and faces questioning from Blackie.  When the gang votes on whether or not to tear down Old Misery's house, Blackie's leadership comes to an end.

Another more subtle conflict is at work in the story: class conflict between those more highly placed in British society and the working class that the boys represent.  Trevor's father, an architect, has come down in the world and is now a clerk.  "Trevor," a rather posh name, is abandoned in favor of "T," and instead of revering a house designed by noted 17th and 18th century architect Christopher Wren, he is the one who proposes its destruction.  Trevor clearly harbors resentment against the upper class from which his family has fallen.


Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Man vs. Society
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; their act of destruction can be seen as revenge against a society that has betrayed them. 

Man vs. Environment

Another main conflict within "The Destructors" is the way in which the boys methodically battle the inner workings of the old house.  T employs his technical know how to guide the rest of the gang in their destructive quest to raze the house from the inside out.  The boys physically battle the inner workings of the house with sledge hammers, crowbars, and even their hands, attacking the plumbing, the paneling, the electrical wiring, all in an attempt to bring Old Misery's house down.