It would be easy, and indeed justifiable, to assume that the antagonist in “The Destructors” is Trevor, who usurps Blackie’s crown and initiates the demolition project; or the entire gang of boys, all complicit in the destruction of an innocent man’s home; or even that innocent man himself, Old Misery, the aging, lonely antithesis to the boys’ youth and cynicism.
It seems, however, that all these people are simply victims of their own circumstance, and it is this post-war social circumstance that is the real antagonist in the story. The story takes place amid a period of shifting balance of power; Mr. Thomas’s home represents the wealth of the upper classes; the gang of boys the ire of the destitute; the destruction the unrest of the lower classes and their bid for power within a stratified society bilaterally wracked by hardship. The lower classes resent the privilege of the wealthy and feel a biting need to fight against it. One could even argue that the war itself is responsible for leaving the boys broken and cynical and disaffected, intent on disaster and addicted to chaos, and that therefore the severity of wartime is the antagonistic catalyst for the main action of the story.