When I began reading “Greasy Lake” by T. Coraghessan Boyle, I thought these boys were exhibiting typical behavior of young-adult men and their behavior led them to trouble. Boyle kept my interest by anticipation and disgust at the boys of the boy’s behavior in this story. The narrator, who is the main character of the story, often describes himself and his friends as “bad characters” and this becomes more convincing in the story. Boyle also used Greasy Lake at not only the setting for this story but also as a character.
He described the lake as “fetid and murky, the mud banks glittering with broken glass and strewn with beer cans and the charred remains of bonfires. ” Greasy Lake is used as a symbol for the youth culture itself in the story and is littered by alcohol, sex and violence. When the boys first came across the greasy man at the lake, their attitudes change for a moment, all three of them are scared. When they began to fight with the man, the narrator grabbed the tire iron out of fear.
Once the three of them beat him up and knock him unconscious, I think this only increased their already arrogant attitudes. When they attempt to rape the greasy man’s lady companion, I think that shows how truly pathetic each of them are, acting like “deranged brothers”. In a very disturbing way, the boys were asserting a primal physical dominance over the woman. I think Boyle’s was sending a message that there are consequences for our actions.
Even though kids tend to think they’re big and bad and have it all figured out, these once cocky boys quickly became horrified once they had to face the consequences of their actions. I personally enjoyed reading “Greasy Lake” very much. The language in the story Boyle used is crude and literal, but it goes with the theme of “badness” portrayed by his characters. Boyle emphasizes the corruption of the lake by using it as a not only the setting, but also as tool to compare the narrator and the youth of the time.
In the beginning, the narrator is as corrupted as the lake; though born pure and “clear” he becomes tainted by the “beer” and wildness of his culture. By ending with the beaten narrator and his friend refusing drugs and driving home, Boyle left me with a sense of for the boys that they are not really “bad characters” after all. The narrator has realized the consequences of his actions, and that he can no longer act invincible.
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