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Greasy Lake

Essay by   •  November 1, 2010  •  Essay  •  818 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,511 Views

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Nature has a powerful way of portraying good vs. bad, which parallels to the same concept intertwined with human nature. In the story "Greasy Lake" by T. Coraghessan Boyle, the author portrays this through the use of a lake by demonstrating its significance and relationship to the characters. At one time, the Greasy Lake was something of beauty and cleanliness, but then came to be the exact opposite. Through his writing, Boyle demonstrates how the setting can be a direct reflection of the characters and the experiences they encounter.

The lake itself plays a major role throughout the story, as it mirrors the characters almost exactly. For example, the lake is described as being "fetid and murky, the mud banks glittering with broken glass and strewn with beer cans" (125). The characters are also described as being "greasy" or "dangerous" several times, which ties the lake and the characters together through their similarities. The narrator explains, "We were bad. At night we went up to Greasy Lake" (124). This demonstrates the importance that the surroundings in which the main characters' choose to be in is extremely important to the image that they reflect. At the beginning of the story, these characters' images and specifically being "bad" is essentially all that mattered to them. "We wore torn up leather jackets...drank gin and grape juice...sniffed glue and ether and what somebody claimed was cocaine" (124). They went out of their way doing anything even remotely deviant, and thrived on the stereotypical image of being "bad."

Numerous times throughout the story, Boyle refers to not only the main characters as being "greasy," but also describes a variety of other people in the same way. It is ironic that not only is the lake named Greasy Lake, but the individuals who hang out there are also referred to as being greasy characters as well. The 3 main characters find themselves surrounded by "dangerous" characters, and get stuck in the middle of a huge fight. As if things aren't bad enough, the main characters then attempt to rape a girl that is with the man they just fought. Very soon after more people show up ready to join in the deviant behavior, all while in the presence of this dirty, disgusting lake. "I'd struck down one greasy character, and blundered into the waterlogged carcass of a second" (128). No matter what the main characters do, or how they react to the conflicts presented, they constantly find themselves in the presence of more greasy characters at the greasy lake.

The author also makes a connection between the lake and the characters in his use of the word "nature." Fairly early in the story Boyle explains that the characters go to the lake to "plunge into the festering murk, drink beer, smoke pot, howl at the stars" which again shows us the connection between the disgusting lake and the deviant teen boys. (125). Boyle then concludes the paragraph by saying, "This was nature," which describes the attitudes and behaviors of

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