Why did Graham Greene choose the name "The Destructors" rather than "The Destroyers"?

Quick answer:

The unnamed narrator is a young boy who lives in a small town with his father. In the story, he and his friends, led by MacMaster, begin to devise ways to destroy the property of their neighbors. They go about this by breaking windows and cutting fences. A local drunkard watches them in amusement but does not report them which leads the children to believe that they are "beyond" punishment. The children's actions culminate when they burn down an old house. The end reveals that the narrator is still in possession of one of the stones from the house and that he has become a writer whose goal is to reveal what happened on that day when he was ten years old.

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The title is a combination of "destroyers" and "constructors" and is a satirical reference to political life in post-war Britain.

After the shock defeat of Winston Churchill in the 1945 General Election, the new Labour government embarked upon a radical program of socialist change. Although Greene, as a man of the Left, was generally supportive of such measures, he nonetheless saw the dangers of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, of sweeping away what was valuable as well as those old traditions and ways of doing things that had long since become obsolete.

He was concerned that the new government, in its enthusiasm for building a new socialist Jerusalem, would also destroy much of what was good about the old system. In "The Destructors" old misery's house can be seen as a symbol of what Greene thought that Britain was in danger of losing amidst the general mania for change and radical reform.

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Graham Greene titled his short story “The Destructors” rather than “The Destroyers” because his theme is not so much about destruction as it is the creation or construction of a new social order in his native England.

“The Destructors” tells the story of a group of young boys who have formed a gang that engages in meaningless and largely inconsequential acts of delinquency. With the arrival of a new family in the neighborhood, however, the leadership of the gang experiences a change from Blackie, the leader at the story’s outset and a boy of limited imagination, to Trevor, or T., the new arrival. In stark contrast to Blackie, T. has a more diabolical yet structured mind. It is T. who envisions the meticulous and orderly destruction of Mr. Thomas, Old Misery’s, home and it is T. who, the reader will surmise, represents the author’s underlying theme: the destruction of the old order in the devastation of World War II and its replacement by a new social construct that rejects the customs and traditions of the past. To have titled his story “The Destroyers” would clearly have focused the reader’s attention on the physical destruction of the house when the broader context illuminates the parallel developments that take place in the course of Greene’s narrative: the construction of the aforementioned social order at the expense of that destroyed in the war and, within the confines of the story, Mr. Thomas’s home.

Graham chose to title his story “The Destructors” because “destruction” is an amalgamation of “destroy” and “construct.” The physical destruction of the house does not occur in a conceptual vacuum. It is the preface to its replacement with a new reality.

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Graham Greene chose the name "The Destructors" instead of the "The Destroyers" for the title of his short story because the Wormsley Common gang works at destroying as if it were an act of constructing. "The Destructors" is a combination of the words "destroy" and "construct." To take apart an architecturally interesting house that has been partially destroyed by a bomb, they bring tools, including nails, hammer, a screwdriver, chisels, and a saw. These are the tools people use to build houses, but they employ them in creatively taking apart a house. They approach their task with the interest and dedication that builders would use to construct a house. As Greene writes of the gang, "they worked with the seriousness of creators—and destruction after all is a form of creation." In their minds, the destruction of the house requires the imagination and vision that a creator would have, and, in a way, their act of destruction of an old house paves the way for something new to take its place, even if it's just an empty lot. Therefore, their act of destruction can be looked at as a form of creation and of construction.

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