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The Signficance of Violence in Graham Greene's The Destructors Essay

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The Signficance of Violence in Graham Greene's The Destructors


In serious fiction, no act of violence exists for its own sake. Graham Green, in his short story “The Destructors,” reveals certain intangible needs met through one central act of violence.

One need we all have as humans is the need to be creative, to express ourselves, to use our imagination. All little boys use their imaginations, which is based on what they see in their environment, whether that be television or their own neighborhood. The gang of boys in “The Destructors” witnessed destruction every day of their lives and played in the rumble of homes as they would a mound of dirt. The gang met every morning at “the site of the last bomb of the first blitz,” which hit when the leader of the gang was but a year old. Along with the destruction to the ground they met on, the house just beside it “suffered from the blast of the bomb and the walls were supported on wooden struts.”
The gang was well accustomed to seeing destruction, therefore their imaginations were corrupted with it. In an attempt to be creative, to use their imagination, the gang collectively decided to destroy the house that survived the bomb. “Destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become.”
The need to use their imaginations won over their logical thought.

Another need that plagues us all is the need to be known. Many people’s biggest fear is to die unknown and alone. We all try to make our mark in the world, whether it be through good grades, athletics, or putting gravy on the walls. We become known for our deeds, both the positive and the negative. The boys longed for the respect and the uniqueness that bringing a house ...


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... be met, either in a positive, constructive way or in a negative, destructive way. Through a negative, destructive act, Graham Green highlights how a gang of boys meets the intangible necessities. Being a person who chooses to fulfill my needs through positive, constructive actions, I understand there is a better way to be creative, to be known, and to be comfortable without bringing a building down with my needs. I choose to be creative through music, to be known as one who helps rather than hinders, and be comfortable with what I have or do not have. Through analyzing this short story, I can now understand and sympathize this those who choose a different path than my own.

Work Cited

Greene, Graham. "The Destructors," Story and Structure. Seventh Edition. Edited by Laurence Perrine, assisted by Thomas R. Arp. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988, 49-61.


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