In war, there is always death, sorrow and loss. But when the war is over it, many families will be burn with the death of loved ones and the loss of their property. Those that are affected mostly by the war are the children. Many of them are so traumatized by the war that it changes their way of life. Many children are left unsupervised and have to find their own way of survival. This paper explains Graham Greene’s short story “The Destructors” about a group of boys who destroyed an old man’s house. Trevor and the boys’ act of destruction symbolize their rebellion against fathers and authority figures.
The war has destroyed Trevor and his family’s lives, leaving Trevor distraught and angry at the world. His parents move from an upper class neighbourhood to a lower class. Being traumatize by having such a life, Trevor lashes out at the adult world because he holds them responsible for the war. It is their war not his. The aftermath of the war leaves many houses destroyed, but one house was not destroyed and it was left standing by itself. That house is owned by an old man named Mr. Thomas. Trevor sees that the house wasn’t bombed with the others and that infuriated him because the house represents the change of his social economics status. Trevor being angry at the adults, said, “It’s a beautiful house, but we will pull it down and we’ll destroy it”. (pg, 63-64).
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He sees the house as wealth, strength and beauty and destroying it is a way to get even with his father, knowing that he was an architect and would have love the house. According to Trevor, “destruction after all is a form of creation”(pg, 65).
So destroying Mr. Thomas’s house and burning his money is also Trevor’s way of getting back at the upper class and Mr. Thomas having to start his life over just like he had to start his life over.
The affects of the war had destroyed the children’s faith in the adult world and by destroying the house; they are demonstrating their hatred of the upper class and adults in general. The aftermath of the war gives the boys enough time on their hands and instead of doing something constructive, they decided to form their own gang and calling themselves the “Wormsley Common Gang”, which give them the freedom of acceptance, loyalty, hard work, leadership and power and besides there were no adult supervision. Joining the gang gives the boys the opportunity to get even at the upper class they never had. For example, when Trevor joined the gang, he became a mockery for the boys because his father, a former architect and present clerk, had “come down in the world” (pg,62).Furthermore, the boys destroyed Mr. Thomas’s house because the war had took their childhood and they were no longer innocence. It also allows them to get their anger out and put the adulthood on the same level as childhood. The boys also destroyed the house because in their lives growing up they see that the war destroys people’s houses, so they believe it is the right thing to do.
In the story Mr. Thomas represents the good values of adulthood and also shows that bad things happened to good people. For example, one of the boys said, “Nothing personal” and then locked Mr. Thomas in the loo, in order to finish destroying his house (pg, 68).
While the lorry driver, symbolises the bad values in adulthood. He unexpectedly finishes the destruction of Mr. Thomas’s house and laughs, showing no remorse, he said, “I’m sorry, I can’t help it, Mr. Thomas, there’s “nothing personal” but you got to admit it’s funny,”(pg, 68).
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The lorry driver laughs at the destruction of the house which shows that the lorry driver does not have any respect for his elders and Mr. Thomas’s property; it also shows that adults do not care for each other.
In concluding, Graham Greene “The Destructors” shows that the gang actions are an act of jealousy because the war had destroyed their past and present them with a future that they did not have any hopes or dreams. They are losing their social status which also influences their actions and their motives to destroy Mr. Thomas house. Destroying Mr. Thomas’s house symbolizes their desire to level the past and destroy any hope for the future. It shows that children follow the examples of adults, so adults should think before doing something that is not right and set good examples. It also shows that good children may become evil when they witness the devastation that the war causes their families. Furthermore, the story shows that the war not only changes people’s lives, but also their way of thinking. In my opinion, war makes children the victims of society and leaves adults with broken dreams and hope and to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Many innocent people die unnecessarily during the war and if everyone would consider the consequences of what will happen to people before starting a war, then many people lives would be save.