What Is the Theme of “The Destructors” by Graham Greene?

The main theme of Graham Greene’s short story, “The Destructors,” is conflict between the old and young. Other themes in the book are loss of innocence, destruction and creation, the struggle between economic classes and the meaninglessness of life.

In this 1954 story, a gang of teenage boys called the Wormsley Common Gang seeks to destroy the home of an elderly man named Mr. Thomas. Although the story’s theme is driven by this plot point, it is also focused on how the gang members lose their innocence in the process of destruction. They create new identities for themselves as criminals. The boys in this gang are poor, and they purposefully burn Mr. Thomas’ life savings in a demonstration of economic strife. There is no greater meaning to the damage these boys do than their own troubled nature, hence the theme of meaninglessness.