This comparison and contrast of “The Destructors”, by Graham Greene and “The Rocking Horse Winner”, by D.H. Lawrence will center on selected parts of stories from the opening through the conclusion. I will seek to compare and contrast both authors’ choices of characters, themes, techniques of suspense, moral statements, and conclusions.
“The Destructors” and “The Rocking Horse Winner” were both written in the third person by British authors and set in post war Great Britain. “The Destructors” was written post World War II and “The Rocking Horse Winner” was written post World War I. Misery caused by poverty is the underlying theme of each story. The significance of the period each story was penned can easily be understood when considering the miserable living conditions of the people of post war Great Britain.
The characters in “The characters in “The Destructors” are not as fully developed as those in “The Rocking Horse Winner”. In “The Destructors” the characters are bound together as a distinct unit or a gang. Their overall interaction is based primarily on the destruction of Old Misery’s house. Dialogue between the gang members is limited to a great extent on the house’s destruction. In contrast, “The Rocking Horse Winner” characters, Paul, his mother, his uncle, and Bassett, are in constant conflict over poverty and bad luck as opposed to wealth and good luck. “The Destructors” is a story about the gang-style activities of young boys living in the inner-city poverty of post-war London and their conspiracy toward destroying an old man’s house. The opening of “The Rocking Horse Winner” sets the tone, moo...
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...which in turn led him to seek games of chance.
The conclusion of both stories is sad. In “The Destructors”, not only is Old Misery’s house destroyed, but also during the latter part of the demolition, the gang holds him captive in the out-house. The final humiliation appears when the lorry driver is an unknowing accomplice but still finds humor in Old Misery’s house being razed. In the “Rocking Horse Winner”, tragically although Paul selects the winning horse of the derby and brings wealth to his family, he dies in the end. Paul’s last words to his mother were “I’m lucky”.
In conclusion, the two short stories as compared and contrasted above, depict the degradation of social norms caused by poverty. The two sets of characters’ reactions to this abasement are different, and both prove ineffective attempts to overcome or cope with the situation.
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