The Destructors

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Destructors” (1954) by Graham Greene. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.


Here you can read an extract from our study guide:

Social setting

The social setting of the story explores class differences. 

Wormsley Common is described as an unattractive location, damaged by the bombs that fell there during the Blitz, and rather poor. The members of the Wormsley Common car-park gang also come from working-class families.

When Trevor first joins the gang, the boys find his upper-class name, as well as his family’s background a source of mockery. His father is a former architect who came down in the world and now works as an office clerk. It is also stated that his mother “considered herself better than the neighbors”. This implies that Trevor’s family comes from a slightly higher social class than the rest of the people in the neighborhood and the boys in the gang. 

The class divide is perhaps best illustrated when Trevor uses the word beautiful to describe Mr. Thomas’ house. Blackie is worried by Trevor’s choice of word and thinks it “belonged to a class world that you could still see parodied at the Wormsley Common Empire by a man wearing a top hat and a monocle, with a haw-haw accent. He was tempted to say, ‘My dear Trevor, old chap,’ and unleash his hell hounds.” It is clear that the residents of Wormsley Common belong to a lower social class and mock the behaviors of those from the upper-class. Moreover, when Trevor talks about the architect of Mr. Thomas’ house, the boys are “startled” and Blackie replies with “Who cares?” showing that the gang does not care about art or history. 

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The Destructors

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