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Greasy Lake by TC Boyle - Essay Example

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Summary
The story's plot is relatively straightforward, and centers around a single night when the narrator and his friends go out to a nearby lake. This lake, called Greasy Lake, is where the story gets its title. It is where they always go “because everybody went there … to snuff the rich scent of possibility on the breeze” and act bad (Boyle). …
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Greasy Lake by TC Boyle
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Download file to see previous pages Once they arrive at the lake, they decide to play a prank on their friend by acting like the police. However, the car they see is not their friend's, but belongs to a “very bad character” who is a “man of action” (Boyle). He attacks them and they fight back, which ends when the narrator picks up a tire iron he keeps in his car "because bad characters always keep tire irons under the driver's seat" (Boyle). After the man is unconscious, and they think he is dead, the narrator and his friends are overcome with a sort of insanity and they try to rape his girlfriend. However, before they can do this another car pulls up and they run, suddenly terrified of going to jail. The narrator runs into the lake where he finds a dead body. He now realizes his own situation is not so bad, the corpse “was probably the only person on the planet worse off than I was” (Boyle). At the end of the story, the “bad character” and the two men in the other car leave, and the narrator and his friends go home, shaken by what they have experienced.
One theme which goes throughout the story is “badness,” which is the idea that the narrator and his friends are obsessed with. It is there from the opening lines of the story, which set the scene by describing the time they live in as one “when it was good to be bad” and they were “all dangerous characters then” (Boyle). Most of the first half of the story is even just the narrator's attempts to describe how bad they are, from drinking “gin and grape juice” to sniffing “glue and ether” (Boyle). ...
It is there from the opening lines of the story, which set the scene by describing the time they live in as one “when it was good to be bad” and they were “all dangerous characters then” (Boyle). Most of the first half of the story is even just the narrator's attempts to describe how bad they are, from drinking “gin and grape juice” to sniffing “glue and ether” (Boyle). Once they arrive at the lake, this switches instead to talking about the badness of others, either of the “bad character” or of movies the narrator has seen (Boyle). The narrator is trying to secure his grip on his image of himself as the type of “bad” person he admires. However, what runs beneath this theme, and is more important to understanding the story, is the fact of the narrator's immaturity. This can be seen from his choice of drink, which mixes gin with the childish grape juice, as well as from his constant comparison of everything to popular culture like Virgin Spring or The Naked and the Dead. It is also clear from how they talk about their lives, such as how Digby “allowed his father to pay his tuition at Cornell” or how the narrator is driving his “mother's Bel Air” (Boyle). The climax of the story comes when they meet with someone who is actually bad, and discover they themselves are actually just children. This point is stated by the narrator himself, who describes himself as “nineteen, a mere child, an infant” when he runs into a corpse floating in the lake (Boyle). It is cemented later, when the friends of the dead man come looking for him and offer to do drugs with them, but they refused, the narrator even thinking he is going to cry (Boyle). Both of these themes show what sort of problems can occur if you try to act like something you're not. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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