The Destructors is a 1954 short story by Graham Greene.
occurs in the mid-1950s, and is about a boys' gang
named the "Wormsley Common Gang", after the place where they live. Trevor, or "T", the protagonist
, devises a plan to destroy a two hundred-year-old house that survived The Blitz
, simply because it is beautiful. Under T, their new leader, the gang accepts the plan and executes it when the owner of the house, Mr. Thomas (whom the gang call "Old Misery"), is away during a bank holiday
weekend. Their plan is to destroy the house from inside, then tear down the remaining infrastructure. Mr Thomas returns home early, however, and the gang locks him in the outhouse and completes the destruction of his house and home. Gang leader T refuses to stop until the destruction job is complete, because even the facade
is valuable and could be reused. The final damage to the house is done when a parked lorry
pulls away a support pole from the side of the house. Mr. Thomas is released from the outhouse by the aforementioned lorry
's driver and is left with the dusty rubble of what once was his home.
The Destructors was adapted for television as part of the 1970s British drama series Shades of Greene. It starred Michael Byrne, Phil Daniels and Nicholas Drake.
Allusions and references in other works
- In the film Donnie Darko (2001), the eponymous protagonist valuably contributes to discussion of The Destructors in his English class. Several of Donnie's acts of vandalism are drawn from influences in The Destructors, for example, the flooding of his school and the arson of the house of a pedophile promotional speaker.
- The story might have inspired the novel We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier. The story of that novel begins with a group of teenagers trashing a house while the owners are away; the remainder deals with the effect of the vandalism upon the house owners and their family.