The book was written by Graham Greene. He was born in England, specifically Hertfordshire. Graham was born on the 2nd of October to Marion and Charles Henry Greene. At the time, the father was a head teacher at a school. Graham attended boarding schools during his childhood. His life as a child was marked with great difficulties. This resulted from the strictness of the father and student bullies at school. Graham suffered a psychological break down at age sixteen. He therefore sought for treatment in London. This was done by student of Sigmund Freud, a renowned neurologist then. Graham was generally an introvert and sensitive from his childhood.
Education, Career and Death
Graham joined Balliol College, a constituent of Oxford University. This was after graduating from high school in 1922. At the college, he developed interest in politics. Particularly, his interest was in Marxist socialism. He graduated in 1925 with a second class honors degree in history. Greene became a catholic convert in 1926 and married Vivien Dayrell in 1927.They had 2 two children.
After graduation, Greene worked as a private tutor before joining journalism. As a journalist, he worked with Nottingham journal before being a sub-editor with The Times. Graham’s career of literature begun in London where he interacted with writers like Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stain. They later became his mentors for long. Graham also made friends with Ford Madox, Henry James and Joseph Conrad. They too were of great influence in his career. Graham died on the 3rd of April 1991 in Vevey Switzerland. He died of blood disease called bipolar disorder.
Historical Events during the Life of Graham Greene
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World War I
The First World War Broke out in 1914 and ended in 1918. It involved almost all the greatest powers in the world. The war involved a great vast of the world, especially the developed countries. These included Russia, Britain, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, and the U.S among others. The countries were divided into two opposing alliances. These were the Allies and the Central Powers. The war was termed as a military conflict since it involved military troops of the countries. Millions of people were killed through assassination. People acted in hostility and brutality during the period.
The Cold War
It lasted for 46 years, ending in 1991. The name ‘Cold’ was because it did not involve the actual physical war. It was a period of a state of military and political tension between the countries. The countries involved were the United States, USSR, Germany, among others. These were majorly the superpowers of the world. The United States was declared the superpower after the fall of the Soviet Union. Over 100,000 lives were claimed in parts of Vietnam and Korea.
Philosophical Movements and Ideas
Sigmund Freud’s Movements
Sigmund Freud was termed as the father of psychoanalysis school of thought. His career was medicine, specifically neurosurgeon. His writings cut across various disciplines. These included anthropology and psychology. He wrote about the influence of wits to the mind. Sigmund wrote about the psychology of the unconscious mind.
There was so much philosophy associated with Catholicism. Though the later is a religion, Philosophers at the time became so interested in finding out more about the same. The Catholic Church traces its root back in Rome, Italy. It began in the year A.D 45.
From the book, we see that Graham is in total agreement with the movements. He has carefully integrated their elements in his work. The characters are portrayed as objects of war through destruction. He also includes element of religion by mentioning the church. The author received great influence from the Catholic Church. This was after being a convert in 1926.
Graham Greene has brought out many themes in his short story “The Destructors.” However the main theme that runs throughout the “The Destructors” is that destruction is senseless. The main theme of the story is portrayed clearly by the actions of the Wormsley gang. Instead the boys using the money they found at Mr. Thomas home they decide to burn it. This shows that every time we decide to employ destructive means to solve problems we are always senseless. Our actions can be compared to the actions of the Wormsley gang. Destruction waters down what we have invested in many years.
Innocence is also another theme that is extensively portrayed in this book. We cannot blame the Wormsley gang for their action of destroying Mr. Thomas residence. This is because these children have grown up during the Second World War period. They have seen killings and destruction of property during their childhood days. These actions may have formed part of their morals. Furthermore these children live at the very place where the bombings occurred. This environment constantly reminds them of the traumatic experience. Therefore, these children are innocent; they actions are caused by them being victims of circumstances and that is Second World War. All the children know and have learnt is destruction. The war claimed their innocence and they know live in disillusionment.
Foreshadowing is a style Graham employs in his work. The setting of this short story is very significant in the plot development but also the use of foreshadowing as a style. The events of this short story take place in London in the mid nineteen fifties. This is the same place Hitler had bombed and caused massive destruction in the Second World War. In the story nothing had been left standing except Mr. Thomas home. Consequently, we can foreshadow that due to the surrounding destruction Mr. Thomas home will also be destroyed.
Green also makes good use of imagery in the short story “The Destructors.” The setting of the story is after the Second World War after the Hitler bombed London. The pictures created in the readers mind as they continue reading is a city which lies in a mess with massive destruction. This is because we are told that the neighborhood has been demolished by bombs. The reader is also able to imagine the dark atmosphere, the negative and violent mood of the occupants of the city.
“The Destructors” is fool of irony. We know that the Second World War happened because of many reasons. We also expect that the destructions in the short story should have happened for some reasons. However, it is surprising to realize that there is no concrete reason for the Wormsley gang to destroy Mr. Thomas habitation. This is opposite of our expectation. The destruction is actually senseless. Destruction if interpreted well in the novel is used as a parable which is also a literary style. The author this destruction to reveal to us that destruction is senseless. Destruction destroys what man has worked for many years. This is portrayed by destruction of Mr. Thomas residence. Mr. Thomas is an elderly man.
Graham Green has also used symbolism. In the short story, there is one house that is still standing even after the destruction in the neighborhood; Mr. Thomas house. This shows that even ion the darkest time there is always a beacon of hope. Mr. Thomas house stands for that beacon of hope. However this hope is always under threat of destruction. This is symbolized by Trevor’s and the Wormsley gang’s actions to destroy the only remaining house.
Allegory as a style is quite prominent in Graham’s work “The Destructors.” Mr. Thomas in this story stands for the old traditional ways and beliefs in doing things. The Wormsley gang represents the younger generation. Initially in the story Mr. Thomas because his well advanced in age expects to tell the boys what to do and what not to do. However, the Wormsley gang led by Trevor decides to destroy Mr. Thomas house without consulting anybody or their elders. By this happenings Graham demonstrates struggle between the old and the new generation. The young generation is shown to have rejected the values and promises of the older generation.
The above struggle also represents class struggle. The Wormsley gang represents the lower class while the Mr. Thomas represents the upper class. The lower class is not amused by the fact that the upper class are enjoying alone. Consequently, they decide to destroy the wealth of the rich so that they may achieve a balance. Trevor’s taking of leadership of the Wormsley gang and leading dictatorially is an allegory of the post Second World War situation. It portrays the power hungry young leaders who took over leadership after the Second World War and now led dictatorially. “The Destructors” also pose to teach as of the aftermath of the Second World War.
The short story “The Destructors” has dynamic characters that have different personalities. They include Blackie, Joe, Driver, Mike, Summers, Trevor and Mr. Thomas. Blackie was the leader of Wormsley Common gang before Trevor took over. Trevor ambition is not to cause harm but to keep the group intact. He is skeptical about anything done by the upper class. Therefore, he is opposed to the upper class. During his leadership of the Wormsley Common gang Blackie does not involve in stealing. He only organizes breaking into Mr. Thomas apartment and having free bus rides.
Blackie demonstrates good leadership skills; he is the one who brings the group together “when they lose confidence in Trevor”. Trevor is the new leader of Wormsley Common gang. He is more aggressive especially in doing evil. He organizes the destruction of Mr. Thomas house. Different from Blackie, Trevor is a dictatorial leader. Other Wormsley Common gang including Trevor submits to him. However, due to his leadership style he does not enjoy polarity as Blackie did. He is almost the complete opposite of Blackie.
Another character is Mr. Thomas. The boys in the Wormsley Common gang call him Old Misery. He lives in the only standing house in the neighborhood. He represents the old generation in this short story. He expects the boys to respect and obey him and his property. Mr. Thomas holds on to the old notion, in which youths were expected to respect their elders. When the story ends, Mr. Thomas discovers was terribly misguided.
There is also an unsuspecting driver who brings down Mr. Thomas’ house. However, when he discovers what had happened he laughs uncontrollably. One of the gang members is called Joe or simply “fat boy.” He is a proponent of destruction. This is because he was the first to vote in favor of Trevor’s plan. Summer is also one of the gang members. He is the complete opposite of Joe. He is opposed to Trevor’s plan to destroy Thomas’ house. Mike is another member of the Wormsley Common gang. He was the easiest to fool among all the gang members
Evelyn Waugh outlines that Greene’ story “The Destructor” has been presented in cinematic style. She highlights that movement of the setting from one place to another is typical of a cinema. She further points at the manner in which Greene settles for one character and explores hi surroundings. This is mainly to emphasize on the cinematic characteristics. In other words, she justifies that reader is detached from the teller of the story. Richard Jones seems to share on the views of Waugh that Greene’s style is more of a cinema than a narration. In his argument, he points out that scenes, the characters, and the tone in the story has been greatly juxtaposed. Jones also observes that the historical context of the story points at the post war periods in England. The story presents the remains of the war as many houses and field lay in ruins. According to these critics, ‘The Destructor’ has reversed the assumed values.
In my opinion, the short story “The Destructor” by Greene Graham is a depiction of juvenile delinquency. The young boy began their ill habit by stealing hammers from the neighbors and from their parents. According to my analysis, Greene presents to us the fact that having ill motives has nothing to do with age or experience. By presenting nine-year old children with a capacity to form a gang, it is very clear that crime is an inherent habit in human that the society needs to deal. The family plays a big role in molding children. The struggle between Blackie and Trevor clearly shows that the struggle for supremacy is not only evident among the aged but also amongst children. Apparently, young children have always been presumed as innocent and know no evil intent. Greene tries to disapprove this notion by presenting proper planned destructions by a gang of young boys. The lorry driver seems to be happy at the misfortune of Mr. Thomas. This is typical of human, to rejoice when one is befallen by evil.
The story presents the remains of the war as many houses and field lay in ruins. According to many critics, ‘The Destructor’ has reversed the assumed values by flipping innocence into corruption which is evident in the society.
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