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In: English and Literature

Submitted By keairra
Words 971
Pages 4
Keairra Adams
Short Story 5th Hour
05/25/2014
The Greasiest
In the short story “Greasy Lake,” T. Coraghessan Boyle the setting to reflects morality and corruption of the youth, creates an appropriate atmosphere, and better develops the characters of the story. Boyle does this by focusing the story at the Greasy Lake and making the Lake as both a setting and character.
Greasy Lake is the story of three friends who are portray themselves to be bad characters. Until they run into a situation where they question, just how bad they are. It can easily be identify as the changing from boys to men, in the beginning of the story the narrator and his friends were compared to nature, which can relate to the many ironic events that happen to the narrator. Some of The circumstances that the narrator in "Greasy Lake" finds himself in are the same that many young people find themselves in when fighting war. One of the many things that took place was when the narrator sees himself as a tough guy or "bad character". He believes he is invincible, There is nobody as cool as he is, or as dangerous as him and his friends are. At the middle of the story the narrator and his friends got a harsh dose of reality as The mood of nature change when he ran into a tough guys which made him realized that he wasn't really tough at all, Making him run into the lake like a little bitch. At this point the narrator is not bothered about his mom’s car because he is now safe in the lake behind trees where no one could find him. Once the narrator continues to swim to a safe place in the lake he runs into something that plunges like a rubber duck, the rubber duck is a dead body.

The irony comes with this because the only person the narrator could think of that would have ended this man’s life would have been the greasy character. Once everything is cleared up the narrator goes to see his mother’s car that is torn up, but luckily the tires are still inflated. The young men now see nature as a sweet smelling air with beautiful birds singing. At the beginning the boys believe nature is nothing but crickets, frogs, and a muddy lake. To me this shows the boys are now changing from boys to adulthood because of all the things that occurred that night.

Through the use of the setting as a symbol of corruption and sin, Boyle creates a wild and uncertain atmosphere. In doing so, he allows the characters to have more freedom and gives the story more believability as the events become more extreme. Along with making the action more believable, the setting helps to make the characters more believable. The narrator often describes himself and his friends as “bad characters” and this becomes more convincing as the narrator describes what he and his friends did at the lake. As the lake is described as having a “bad breath of decay,” it is representative of the narrator and all of the youth at the lake and the decaying of their morals.

This description and personification of the lake also helps to characterize the narrator throughout the story. Originally the narrator is as corrupted as the lake; though born pure and “clear” he becomes tainted by the “beer” and wildness of his culture. As the character ventures to the lake on the night that the majority of the story takes place in, it is not difficult for the reader to correctly predict that some action he takes will lead to some unfortunate event for him and his friends. The narrator comments that losing his keys after unknowingly instigating a fight is “[his] first mistake, the one that opened the whole floodgate,” foreshadowing the grave and life-threatening events to come. After nearly killing a man and nearly raping a woman, the narrator finds himself in the murky waters of Greasy Lake next to a rotting body of a dead biker. However, after emerging from the water after what appear to be many hours, the narrator realizes how repugnant and unpleasant Greasy Lake is and realizes after seeing the dead body in the lake what happens to the people that frequent the lake. Since Greasy Lake represents the society and culture that the narrator is living in, the fact that he realizes that the lake is this repulsing is a self-realization that his life style is the same.

The narrator is symbolically baptized in the dirty waters of Greasy Lake. He foreshadows when he comments that the mistake of dropping his keys “[opens] the floodgate” of the events of the night to come. The water imagery helps emphasize the baptism and rebirth of the narrator and his friends who become less “bad” after their experience in the lake. The fact that the lake is dirty, murky and corrupt and that the narrator is metaphorically cleaned by it tells the reader that narrator must have been more “bad” than the lake before he was submerged in it- otherwise the water would have made him dirtier and more “bad.” After their baptism, the narrator and his friends turn down an offer to take drugs, offered to them by an attractive female, an offer they would have surely accepted only a few hours before.

By making the setting of the lake as both a tool for a literary baptism and an object to compare and contrast the narrator to, Boyle emphasizes the corruption of the lake, the narrator and the society of the time. However, by ending with the beaten narrator refusing drugs and driving home, Boyle leaves the reader with a sense of hope and good in the world.…...

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