Analyse the Narrative Skills of Graham Greene in his Short Story ‘The Destructors’. And show how they enhance their appeal to the reader. Graham Greene was born on October 2, 1904 in Berhamstead, Hertfordshire. The fourth of six children, Graham was a shy and sensitive youth. He disliked sports and was often truant from school in order to read adventure stories by authors such as Rider Haggard and R.H. Ballantyne. These novels had a deep influence on him and helped shape his writing style.
In this piece of coursework, I am going to analyse the narrative skills of Graham Greene in his short story ‘The Destructors’. When analyzing his narrative skills I am going to look in depth on the various fields such as the plot structure and setting, characterisation, style, atmosphere, and the tension of the story. The information that I gather shall give me evidence to suggest whether or not Graham Greene is an effective and successful narrative author.
The plot structure is profound and slightly ambiguous nearly throughout the whole story because we cannot really identify an immediate story line until Trevor introduces the big plan. Although, even from then we cannot really predict what is going to happen next accept just read on. This is an effective use of the plot by the author as it keeps the reader in suspense and as well as entices the reader to read until the end of the story. Although, the story line to some extent is perfectly logical, this story line is unique from other predictable story lines. The opening paragraph of the story is prosaic, “It was the eve of the August Bank Holiday”.
This is an effective us of plot as the scene setting is described as if a young youth was narrating, therefore this gives us some evidence that it is about some young youths. The plot structure is very unusual, as the story does develop logically to some extent but it is more of a psychological theme when T. is introduced in the play it is almost uncertain what is going to happen, as we can’t predict what is going through someone’s mind, as it is not always logical or rational. In the plot structure we find that there is a main incident i.e. the destruction of Mr. Thomas’s house.
This incident produces a morbid fascination for the reader, as the idea is quite chilling and profound. We discover that at the end of the story that the author has an abrupt and insipid ending. The ending presents both humour and irony, shown when the driver says, “Making heroic efforts….but you got to admit its funny”. It is also unrealistic that an adult would be so inconsiderate and uncompassionate towards an elderly man who has lost everything he owns and has worked so hard for. The ending takes off the shine to what was a very creative, but oppressive story.
The setting of the story is significant because it gives a good picture to reader on how the background was back in the 1950’s as words such as, “a smaller bomb and some incendiaries”. These words insinuate to the reader that it is after the world war. We know that in the 1950’s the boys had a hard life as they may have not been nurtured appropriately, as the war had a huge effect on the standard of living and employability in the UK. Therefore, this meant that most of the boys did not obtain substantial education and had a harsh upbringing from their parents. Hence, this would have had a huge effect on their mental state which would lead them to carry out cold calculated tasks.
Another aspect of the narrative skills used effectively by the author is the characterization. The main characters, who I am going to analyse, are Trevor, Mr. Thomas and Blackie. At the start of the story, we find that Trevor is a taciturn and slightly enigmatic character as the author says, “There were possibilities about his brooding silence.” In addition, we find that Trevor is not engaged with the gang straight away as his past history may have had a huge affect on him as the author describes that his father had “come down in the world”. Another effective use of characterization that the author has used about Trevor is that the name was unusual and was normally an upper middle class name. As this name sounds quite posh the rest of the gang would laugh and mock him as not many rich people lived in that area.
Also, when T. says, “I’ve been there”. These few words suggest that T. is type of character who does not give much away as his usual taciturn nature explains this. However, this is quite good characterization by the author as he has created the character of T. as a person who is mysterious and has nothing to hide but this conjures up something menacing about him. T. also puts the reader slightly in suspense, as we don’t know what he is capable of as his recent brooding silence keeps us puzzled over what his state of mind is. In addition, we discover that T. is different from everyone else in the way that he has no sign of pleasure from performing the destruction of Mr. Thomas’s house.
This tells us that he has changed in to a disturbed youth and maybe hinting that he is slightly a psychopath, as this is what we identify from the description of the author when he says, “T. raised eyes as gray and disturbed as the drab august day.” In addition, we find that T. does not elaborate much when he is speaking/ interacting with the rest of the gang because we can tell from his abrupt speeches, “I’ve found a way in.”
This also suggests that T. has got something to hide or it’s just his temperament to be quiet and not give much away. This is another effective use of T.’s character by the author as this keeps us under suspicion about what T. is thinking. We find that throughout the story T. exerts more influence on the rest of the gang and has usurped Blackie’s leadership. Once T. becomes leader we see a drastic change in his character as he has become more demanding, confident and independent, “You….bring some big nails, the biggest you can find, and a hammer”, and “We meet here at nine sharp”. From this quote we also find that he is very punctual and organized as if he was an adult.
The last thing that we find out about T.’s character is that he has a strange morality, “We aren’t thieves…Of course I don’t hate him….There wouldn’t be no fun if I hated him.” Looking at these lines we find that T. has no motive and we can’t see him here as a logical character. The lines, “All this hate….It’s soft, its hooey”, suggest that psychologically T. is very complex and there is a hint that he is a psychopath here as well because he shows no emotion and motive for the destruction.
Another quote to support his strange morality is that when the author says, “the fury of the child he had never been”, indicates that he had been neglected and had a poor upbringing from his parents. The author’s characterization of T. is complex as he has strange actions and a warped mind, that as readers we cannot entirely figure him out as he is not like a normal youth, it is ambiguous. However, the description that the author gives of T. keeps us curious throughout the story and continually asking ourselves what is going to happen next?