Essay discussing the symbolism in Graham Greene’s, "The Destructors".
“An object, person, situation, or action that in addition to its literal meaning suggests other meanings as well” is a concise explanation of what symbolism implies (pages 726-730). In the blitzed world of “The Destructors”, Graham Greene incorporates an abundant amount of symbolism. We are invited into London, a disheartened world , nine years after WW II. Clearly, the protagonists are the gang members, particularly “T” whose name is truly Trevor. That knowledge alone bestows symbolism on its own distinctly because of the ridicule that accompanies his true name. To be more specific, in those times, the name “Trevor” was a identified as an elaborate and rich name. The ridicule has become part of T’s name because of its extinct meaning in their current world. The setting is dismal and grim due to the bombings London had fallen victim to. The social classes crumbled along with the rubble of the wars’ physical aftermath.
Shortly after the introduction we get the preconceived notion that there is nothing left in this society but the products of destruction; however, one house from the societies past still stands. The house is far from its prime condition and stands crookedly between two demolished plots;nevertheless, it still symbolically possesses the beauty, love, generosity, and courtesy of the dead preceding society.
Trevor is in conflict with himself, which is part of the backbone to this story. His determination to destroy the house comes from his inner-most feelings of rebellion to a society that he can no longer be part of. “One moment the house had stood there with such dignity between the bomb-sites like a man in a top hat, and then, bang, crash, there wasn’t anything left – not anything”. The “man in the top hat” is thought to be a symbol in high society. Evidence of this is given to us from the thoughts of “Blackie” and the “Drivers” final reaction at the conclusion of the story.
The new generation risen from the rubble, harvests an anger aiding in the rebellion towards the old society. To be more precise, Trevor’s anger due to the loss of his childhood and the distrust of the previous society, including his family, is contagious. Mr. Thomas is neither hated or loved by Trevor due to the fact that his presence retains the beauty of the society that once stood. The dead societies political structure brought the war, seen through Trevor’s eyes.
Symbolism is also found in the title. Anyone who gives a superficial amount of effort to understanding the plot can easily miss the authors message. Trevor’s plan is not a common way of destruction gangs usually execute. “We’d be like worms, don’t you see, in an apple”, entails the house being systematically extinguished. As the gang follows their leaders’ blueprint for destruction, the symbolism can easily be overlooked, when utilizing a deeper insight into the meticulous destruction. The gang worked hard together, creating a system of friendship, loyalty, and acceptance, as opposed to the elaborate wealthy social class of the past. “Destruction after all is a form of creation” undoubtedly supports the gangs creation as a unit.
Mr. Thomas is a icon of the past, who retains the lost society’s customs;nevertheless, his house is a symbol of hope. Greene purposefully incorporates the letter T in both Trevor and Mr. Thomas’s name to show what Trevor could have been. Trevor destroys the house partly because of his dim future that awaits him; consequently, he wants to ruin the beacon of hope for everybody else. His celebration is the burning of Mr. Thomas’ life savings, one by one.
In conclusion, the symbolism throughout Graham Greene’s short story, The Destructors, makes it quite evident that destruction is pointless because creation is unwillingly produced from it. Collectively, we can sense the irony in our past view of both destruction and creation.