mere builder whose place alone survived bombing W r i t i n g
I could tell from your responses to Greene’s “The Destructors” prompts, there was some angst and consternation over the story and what those kids did. I deliberately juxtaposed “The Destructors” with “The Nightingale of Kabyle” to showcase extremes of art– life destroying and life saving. These descriptions don’t entirely fit, yet they are great classifications of the effects of these artists at work. Both stories are set amid a backdrop of war– the rubble of its aftermath in Greene’s and the midst of bullets flying in Robles’s. However, one showcases art as capable of pulling down and devastating and the other as building up and uplifting.
I may be wrong, but I think what you found so troubling is that the boys in “The Destructors” used art to degrade, not to add dignity to their work, not to add goodness to their world. That “destruction after all is a form of creation” begs the question: what was created through their methodical, artistic destruction?
- a blank canvas of sorts with which “Old Misery” now has to work– but against his will and his consent! It’s not what he wanted.
- a seeming equalized status for all participants: as T’s family was brought down in society from architect to clerk, now “Old Misery,” a mere builder whose place alone survived bombing, is in no way above them–or anyone
- a world and life of devastation for “Old Misery” who, unless he has a little money stashed away somewhere else, is now destitute.
Although the boys worked the way we saw artists work and they’re approach was methodical, goal-oriented, and even beautiful in its depiction, none of the results of their labor and art was good. In this story, we see art used for something wicked, no matter how that aspect of it was disguised. Perhaps as children, misguided and erring, they may be exonerated in some ways, but the effect of their labor remains: it ruined things and people, and this end does not coincide with the dignity of labor that Pope John Paul II reiterates as necessary to good work.