Mood Of The Destructors And The Taste Of Watermelon Described

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

“The Destructors” by Graham Greene explores young boys in their adolescence striving to eradicate the dishonor that comes with being in a lower class. The teens do this by collectively taking part in rebellious actions in The Wormsley Common Gang. “The Taste of Watermelon” by Borden Deal, on the other hand, delves into gaining self-knowledge as it is a coming-of-age story. The two short stories themes relate in a sense of acceptance as this need drives the main characters to take part in destructive actions. “The Destructors” by Graham Greene and “The Taste of Watermelon,” explore a similar path of yearning for validation as the character’s need for acceptance results in destruction.

The social position of the main characters affects them by leading adolescent teenagers to take part in quests that are likely to earn themselves respect from others. In “The Taste of Watermelon”, the narrator is immediately placed in a box where he lies in social position after moving into a new town; one that is a farm-based community. Being that his father is not a farmer, the narrator does not have the same experiences as anyone else in the town. Due to his lack of a farm-based upbringing, he is treated differently and even his friends are hesitant and wary about their opinions of him. “J.D. and Freddy Gray were my good friends. But because I was still new, there were certain things and certain feelings where I was left out” (Deal 3). The narrator- even though he is part of a friend group- feels as though he was not accepted due to how different his mindset is. At the end of the story, the narrator talks to Mr. Wills about helping him around the farm over the summer. Mr. Wills’ social standing is high in the community- being that he is the best farmer in town. This allows the narrator to no longer be an outsider as Mr. Wills becomes a second father figure to him and helps him keep in touch with his community. Similarly in “The Destructors,” “It was the word ‘beautiful’ that worried him”(Greene 3). The gang is not known to appreciate the beauty in ordinary things; in fact, they are known to make fun of it. The Wormsley Common Gang’s reputation is based on their destruction and favor of pulling pranks that challenge the traditional norms in shocking acts of rebellion. In “The Destructors”, London is facing dramatic changes in its social and political order after World War II. This is prevalent in the Wormsley Common Gang as they strive to eradicate the stigma of the lower class and debunk the superiority of the upper class. “There was every reason why T, as he was afterward referred to, should have been an object of mockery” (Greene 1). Trevor is a name likely associated with the upper-class; due to the gang’s hatred for class structure and division, they decide to call him T.

The two stories use the destruction of others’ property as a way to verify themselves and prove their masculinity to others. “[T]here was a rightness in defying the world and Mr. Wills” (Deal 4). The narrator felt compelled to go on such a quest in order to gain respect from others. He told himself, however, that this was the right thing to do and forced himself to believe he was doing it so it would cause Mr. Wills to not care so much about a silly watermelon. “‘Nobody’s going to pinch things. Breaking in- that’s good enough’” (Greene 3). In the gang, stealing is considered to be a dishonorable act that subscribes too heavily to belief in the value of things, or a materialistic mindset. Simply by breaking in and destroying Old Misery’s house without stealing a single item, the gang would earn the fame that would “surely reach all around London. There would be headlines in the papers. Even the grown-up gangs […] would hear with respect to how Old Misery’s house has been destroyed” (Greene 4). The gang would reach their goal of gaining respect from other, more well-known gangs, through this extreme act of insurgency. Through this, the Wormsley Common Gang hopes to really make a name for themselves and earn the credibility of a true gang.

The stories parallel as the main characters use destruction and carry out nefarious quests with contrasting intentions. In “The Taste of Watermelon,” the narrator plans to steal Mr. Wills’ watermelon while he’s out with his friends. The timing for the quest was not coincidental. The narrator admits, “‘Anybody could steal it on a dark night,’ […] ‘I’m going to take it from right under his nose. Tonight’” (Deal 4). The act of stealing the watermelon on this specific night, while out with his friends, caused the narrator to believe the act will earn him more praise, rather than just out on a regular dark night without anyone to bear witness. The narrator’s sole intent is to gain more respect and be branded as masculine. Symbolically, stealing the watermelon will gain the respect and validity from others that the narrator needs, as well as getting the girl- Willadean. The narrator tells himself; however, he is stealing the melon to teach Mr. Wills a lesson. In “The Destructors,” the Wormsley Common Gang’s goal is to eliminate the dishonor that comes with being born in the lower-class. For example, “‘We’ll burn [the money],’ he said, ‘one by one’ (Greene 7). By burning the money found in Old Misery’s house, it reassures the gang’s main purpose, while also symbolically tormenting the upper class.

“The Destructors” and “The Taste of Watermelon” both utilized correlating themes of acceptance, destruction, and validation; these themes occur, however, in contrasting ways. The authors of each story intend for these themes to resonate within the audience in a specific way. The theme of destruction occurs in both stories, yet in “The Taste of Watermelon,” it is caused by various factors all having to do with feeding the narrator’s ego and making himself feel more masculine through rebellious acts. In “The Destructors,” the gang takes part in these risky quests in an attempt to send a message that people are too materialistic and care too much about their belongings. Materialism is often present within the upper class, which is the main reason for the gang’s hatred towards them. Ultimately, the two short stories parallel each other because the main characters go through phases of destruction driven by a need for validation or to be recognized by others.

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