Authors use gruesome or macabre details to develop and emphasize theme. Theme, the controlling idea or insight to the story, can be clarified when authors use such extreme forms of violence. In the short stories "The Destructors”, by Graham Greene, "The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson, and "The Most Dangerous Game”, by Richard Conell, some form of gruesome or macabre actions takes place. In each of these stories, irrational acts of violence, horrible traditions, and the hunting of humans, respectively, help to highlight and accentuate the theme. By striking interest in the reader while these gruesome actions are taking place, the authors of these stories are able to draw attention to the theme of their stories. The theme is much more noticeable when such obvious and important events occur.
The actions of the Wormsley Common Gang in "The Destructors,” by Graham Greene, help bring out and stress the theme of the story; actions when one who grows up in an environment that is violent may lead to irrational acts that are equally violent. Throughout the story, we see the Wormsley Common Gang committing illegal acts of minute magnitude: "'Today,' Mike said tactlessly, 'we're pinching free rides'” (52). These insignificant actions could be committed by anyone, regardless of their childhood history. However, the macabre event of the destroying of Old Misery's house is a truly disturbing action that not just any thug would commit. The author uses details of this horrid event to help bring out the theme and intrigue the reader. .
The horror and suspense of the crime grabs the reader and helps to develop the story and theme. "'I don't want to pinch anything,' T. said. 'I've got a better idea.'. 'We'll pull it down,' he said. 'We'll destroy it'” (52). No reason is ever given for destroying the house. The gang simply agrees to destroy it. The idea of destroying the house intrigues the reader, keeping him interested in the rest of the story.