Why did the author set the story in a post-war, London neighborhood?

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Graham Greene chose to set "The Destructors" in post-WWII London in order to comment on how violence, instability, and destruction affected England's society. Throughout the story, a group of juvenile delinquents bands together under the leadership of T. to utterly destroy a battered but stately eighteenth-century house. The house was built by Christopher Wren, Great Britain’s greatest architect, and symbolizes the pre-WWII upper class. Greene also incorporates various allegorical elements throughout the story to comment on England's post-WWII society and values. Mr. Thomas and his home represent the pre-WWII aristocracy, as well as the older generation, which holds traditional values and owns property. The Wormsley Common gang represents the disenfranchised lower class, which rejects the empty promises and values of the past. Greene represents the post-WWII class struggle through the Wormsley Common gang's destruction of house number 3. The desolate, war-torn setting; the nihilist attitude of T.; and the destruction of the eighteenth-century home represent how WWII affected London's society.

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janeyb's profile pic

janeyb | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The location of "The Desturctors" is important to the story. It is a constant reminder to the readers, and to the characters, of the loss of innocence the boys grew up with during the War. ALmost everything is destroyed , and the gang wants to finish it. They have no way to imagine a better life, only a worse one, and therefore tear down the house, rather than try and build a new one, or to imagine a better life for themselves. By setting the story in post-war London Graham Greene can create an environment that mirrors the destruction of innocence and imagination within his characters.

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