Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

The English teddy boy style of dress Published by Gale Cengage

Greene is considered one of the most important writers of his generation although most of the criticism of his work focuses on his novels. Still, there are similarities between his novels and his short stories, such as his sympathetic portrayal of flawed characters, the degradation of the individual in the modern world, the need for moral compromise in certain situations, and the harsh realities of violence and cruelty. Greene’s writing style is also consistent among his novels and shorter works. Renowned English writer Evelyn Waugh describes Greene’s writing style in Commonweal as ‘‘not a specifically literary style at all. The words are functional, devoid of sensuous attraction, of ancestry, and of independent life.’’ Perhaps this is why Richard Jones of Virginia Quarterly Review concluded that the key to Greene’s popularity is ‘‘probably his readability,’’ which attends to ‘‘the main business of holding the reader’s attention.’’ Waugh likens Greene’s style to that of the cinema, where the camera moves from one setting to another, settling on a character, surveying his or her surroundings, and so on. As a result, there is no direct connection made between the storyteller and the reader. Jones makes a similar observation: ‘‘[Greene] resorts to the tricks of the cinema—swift juxtaposition of scene, character, and tone—and is often, because of this, slick and ambiguous in his effects.’’ These techniques also apply to Greene’s short stories and are evident in ‘‘The Destructors.’’

‘‘The Destructors’’ is regarded as one of Greene’s most accomplished and important pieces The English...

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