Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Greene’s narrator is selectively omniscient. Although the reader is made aware of the internal doubts and anxieties of Blackie, the deposed leader, the inner workings of T’s troubled mind remain closed. The narrator is also decidedly neutral and uncensorious in the general treatment of this focal character. To proponents of the tradition represented by the objects T. destroys, this child seems the very essence of evil. Greene, however, offers nothing to suggest anything other than a mysterious amorality that is cold, implacable, and generally inexplicable, although he piques curiosity with oblique references to T’s background and mental state. When Old Misery suddenly returns home and threatens the enterprise, T. protests this unforeseen complication “with the fury of the child he had never been.” Earlier, T., who generally looks down when he speaks, proposes the destruction of the house to the incredulous boys with “raised eyes, as grey and disturbed as the drab August day.”

Prior to T’s membership in the gang, its members’ preoccupation was with adolescent mischief, such as stealing free rides on public transportation. T., however, is decidedly unchildlike and becomes the instrument that destroys not only the house but the group’s collective innocence. The pleasures of their previous childhood preoccupations are forever lost to them. T. has taken them abruptly from innocence to experience, summarily depriving them of a gradual but essential learning process. In this regard, T’s actions are presented as more the product of fate than malevolence.

The economy of description in character development is characteristic of Greene’s writing. Extensive graphic detail and character background are all but nonexistent, but there is enough to make the reader more than willing to supply the missing dimension.

The Destructors Historical Context

The Modernist Period in English literature began in 1914 with the onset of World War I and extended through 1965. It is a literary period that...

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The Destructors Literary Style

Greene demonstrates the instability of postwar England in his presentation of opposing forces throughout...

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The Destructors Compare and Contrast

1950s: Since its election victories of 1945, the Labour Party is working on bringing certain industries under government...

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The Destructors Topics for Further Study

Compare the Wormsley Common gang with modern American gangs. Consider factors like membership, recruitment, enemies, activities, and...

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The Destructors Media Adaptations

‘‘The Destructors,’’ along with two of Greene’s other short stories (‘‘The Basement Room’’ and ‘‘Under the...

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The Destructors What Do I Read Next?

William Golding’s 1954 The Lord of the Flies is about a group of boys stranded on an island who revert to a primitive state as...

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The Destructors Bibliography and Further Reading

Costa, Richard Hauer, ‘‘Graham Greene,’’ in Concise Dictionary of British Literary

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