The Destructors


Graham Greene

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Themes and Colors
Class and a Changing World Theme Icon
Codes of Behavior Theme Icon
Money and the Value of Things Theme Icon
Adolescence, Age, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Destruction and Creation Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Destructors, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Class and a Changing World

“The Destructors” is set in London, England in the early 1950s. World War II has ended less than a decade earlier, and the city and country are slowly emerging from the destruction of the war. England is not emerging unscathed or unchanged, however. The country is scarred by the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its soldiers and the destruction incurred during the unprecedented German bombing campaign on British cities. England after the war is…

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Codes of Behavior

“The Destructors” not only depicts class difference and conflict between the Wormsley Common Gang and Mr. Thomas, but also probes deeper to examine the codes of behavior that drive the way the boys of the gang and Mr. Thomas think and act.

Mr. Thomas believes in a world of rigid hierarchies, in which the lower class should naturally show deference to their “betters” in the upper class, and the upper class should, in turn…

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Money and the Value of Things

“The Destructors” focuses particularly on the clash between the pre-war and post-war generations in their relationships to money and material possessions. Perhaps in part because the boys of the gang have grown up during a time of shortage, they have little respect for money or things. They avoid stealing because they think it will end with them going to jail, but also because they see it as beneath them to obsess over and covet material…

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Adolescence, Age, and Rebellion

The members of the Wormsley Common Gang are boys ranging in age from nine to fifteen years old. Mike is still a child, while T. and Blackie are just a few years into their teens. As such, there is little surprise in the boys’ rebellious antics. They have little respect for the world around them – a world blown apart by a war that shaped their society but which they don’t remember – and so…

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Destruction and Creation

The idea that destruction is a form of creation is drawn from the section of the story describing the end of the boys’ first day destroying Mr. Thomas’s house. The mood of the narration becomes distinctly philosophical in its description of the boys: “they worked with the seriousness of creators – and destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become.” The…

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