The Destructors

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In "The Destructors" Graham Greene uses Trevor and other characters as an example to assert that the war and the bombing that injured British cities during the war was causing people surrounded by the destruction to become desensitized. Blackie and the other members of the gang all distrust Old Misery's exhibitions of generosity and so go along with Trevor's plan to destroy his house. The local lorry driver finds the ruination of the old house hilarious. Trevor is held up as the story's most prominent example of war-caused sociopathy while on the other end of the spectrum is Mr. Thomas (that is Old Misery's proper name, the poor man lost his house, a show of respect is needed here) who shows that he still has some softer emotions left. Their reactions all fall on different points of that spectrum, but they all have one thing in common. That the war has affected the way they react to each other. The story was first published in 1954, nine years after World War II ended. The young members of the Wormsley Common Gang had either grown up with the war or were born into a London that had been wounded by it. Either way, they are emotionally stunted by their circumstances. They aren't hardened criminals yet, just lost, as though they have nothing that anchors them in their unstable world except the gang. Mike, the most childish of the group, is the only one who seems to have a home life. He goes home occasionally, unlike anyone else in the gang. The gang's mistrust of kindness is shown when Blackie, Mike and "a thin yellow boy" named Summers frantically think up excuses and mock Mr. Thomas for his generosity. He gives them Smarties (the English chocolate kind, not American Smarties) after making sure that they "'belong to the lot that play in the car-park.'" "The gang were puzzled and perturbed by this action and tried to explain it away. Bet someone dropped them and he picked em up'" Their own detached minds can't compute an altruistic gift from another person, so they...
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