The Destructors by Graham Greene Summary & Analysis

A Post-WW-II Scene

The story is set in post-WWII England where the country is still reeling from the destruction of a devastating war. Among the various demolished structures, there is a lavish, old-school building where this tale is set. The house is supported on external supports and uses an external bathroom as the indoor pipes were damaged beyond repair.

The protagonist is a young boy named Trevor or ‘T’ who joins a band of mischievous and trouble making teenagers led by a boy named Blackie. They call themselves the Wormsley Common gang.

A Mischievous Idea

T is a quiet boy who does not seem to be very noisy or impish. However, it soon changes. When the boys find the aforementioned house beside the park they used to visit, a scheme enters into T’s mind.

He sees the lofty building as an insult to the war-wrecked neighbourhood and all the rubble that surrounds it. He wants to level it to the ground to sort make things even and to bring more notoriety to the gang’s name.

Thomas – the Owner of House

The owner of the house is a pesky old man named Thomas. The boys nickname him as ‘Old Misery’ due to his irritable personality. T plans to have recon of the building and introduces himself to Thomas as a fan of the British architecture and fine design. 

Thomas gives him a personalized tour of the place feeling proud if his house. T is impressed by the rich design and objects in the house. It is luxurious and beautifully made.

By the time he finishes the tour, he has devised his plot. He learns that Thomas will be away the next weekend and he considers it to be the perfect window to seed his plan to action.

T – the Leader of Gang

T explains his plan to the gang and they are sceptical at first. But inspired by the sheer courage and outrageous nature of the task they all fall in. They even make T their new leader democratically.

Now, when the weekend arrives they enter the empty house. Panel by panel and brick by brick they deconstruct the building and its objects. They use hammers, screwdrivers, bats etc to destroy it completely from inside.

Thomas Returns

Next day and midway of their plan, they realize that Thomas has returned. However, T lulls him into thinking that a boy is locked inside the outside bathroom and shoves him inside the isolated bathroom. He locks Thomas from outside and goes back to dismantling his place.

In the end, only the external walls of the house remain. They are supported with strong struts. T decides to tie the struts with rope and hang the loose end of the rope to a truck belonging to a neighbour.

House is Razed

When the truck driver comes to start his vehicle the next morning, he hears a loud thud and crash. He runs back to see the site and finds the lofty building eating dust on the ground. He hears the cries of Thomas from the bathroom and opens the door.

Thomas is devastated and crestfallen to see his house razed to the ground. However, the truck driver finds it comical and even manages to share a laugh at the scene.

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