Graham Greene's story The Destructors has that unique quality of making you believe in the unbelievable. The story is based on a scenario that seems simply beyond belief as a real event: a gang of young boys - the newest recruit is only nine - literally take a house to pieces and cause it to collapse. Of course this is not possible in real life, but Greene creates his characters so realistically, and draws us in so gradually, that it all becomes entirely plausible. We are willing to suspend our disbelief. And once we have done that, we discover a story that works on all sorts of different layers. The opening of the story establishes the gang of boys, and talks about them as if they were any other normal group of teenagers. Greene succeeds in outlining the relationships between the boys in a way that shows his understanding of how they work. The newcomer, Trevor, is special. He is accepted without having to go through the usual initiation ceremonies because of his 'odd quality of danger, of the unpredictable'. In just a short paragraph, Greene shows us how one person can establish leadership over others. Interestingly, he does it mainly through silence. He only speaks when he needs to, and makes sure that what he says is important. This is how he creates the sense of mystery that gives him respect in the eyes of the others. No one could have predicted his plan to destroy Old Misery's house. The house has already featured in the background description of the area. Old Misery has also been mentioned, ironically because of an act of kindness in giving the boys sweets, which were rationed during the second world war. His house is said to have been built by Sir Christopher Wren, the greatest English architect of the 17th century. So we have here a major theme of the story: beauty and destruction. The house is a thing of beauty with 'a staircase two hundred years old like a corkscrew. Nothing holds it up'. It is the only one remaining in an area that has been heavily bombed, and 'stuck up like a jagged tooth'. Greene poses a question which is central to human behaviour: when people are brutalised by ugliness and destruction all around them, what drives them to destroy rather than preserve the only thing of beauty remaining? Greene resists offering simple answers. We are never quite sure whether the boys actually have been affected by the war or not. In many ways their behaviour is just like that of boys in any other period of time. They abide by the simple rules of the gang and spend their time playing silly pranks like trying to get free rides on buses. That is one of the other themes of the story: the sheer complexity of human behaviour. We watch in awe as a group of boys does something beyond belief, and in the process, we are reminded of the extraordinary range of human behaviour: nothing is ultimately unbelievable where humans are concerned. There is also the sense of an artist trying an experiment in this story as well: suppose a boy was to suggest destroying a house? How far can I push this storyline and make the reader believe in what I am doing? Trevor has the status of an extraordinary mixture of a leader and a prophet: 'Streaks of light came in through the closed shutters where they worked with the seriousness of creators - and destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become.' This is a key point. The boys are not vandalising the house; they are not causing superficial damage just to irritate Old Misery. They are not stealing anything - when they find some money, they burn it in order to make the destruction more complete. For Trevor, it is an act of creation. He has visualised so perfectly what he wants to achieve that for him it is like any other artefact that an artist creates. We can now also see another reason for his odd power over the others at the beginning of the story. He is concerned only with things. He has no emotion at all: 'All this hate and love,' he said, 'it's soft, it's hooey. There's only things.' That is another theme of this story. It warns us of the danger that faces us if people stop feeling for one another. In the end, what seems to fascinate Greene is the scene as a work of art. We are asked to believe that the house falls down and all that is left is a shed - the outside lavatory - which remains undamaged with Mr Thomas inside it. It is the absurdity which in the end fascinates Greene, and we are left just with the absurd picture that he has created: an old man in an outside lavatory with his house flattened by a group of adolescent boys. And the only response? Like the ancient Gods laughing at the absurdity of man scrabbling around on the Earth below, the only response left is the last line of the story: 'You got to admit it's funny.'