T.C Boyle is a copious andan admired writer in America. His short story, “greasy lake” wasinitially published in 1982. The author has incorporated his playwith buffoonery and intermittent cultural background where he dwellson an unnamed character and his other two friends. Furthermore, thethree are teenagers who had recently graduated from high school. Theyare in a hustle to become “evil characters” a course that seesthem deviate from being kids to a group of drug addicts who drive ina borrowed car in search of trouble destined to the Greasy Lake. Ontheir arrival, they found the pursued trouble a brutal combat,attempted assault and murder them. The narrator regrets his thirstfor danger. The author was successful in defining that danger andstrength is one thing (Werlock 22). This play is a reflection ofmodern American life with a more menacing feature. The narrator ofthe story is an adult who reflects on his life as a youth, which heterms as foolish. Regardless of the narrative having many burlesquefeatures, it was also an induction liturgy for the participants. Theprotagonist almost becomes the evil character that he always envied.In the course of mimicking a bad person, the character came acrossAl’s corpse who either had been drowned in the lake or shot dead.
The narrator is portrayedas the protagonist in his late teenage years (Overview N.p). Thisfellow dwells in the same resident as his mother and often uses hercar. He has a strong liking for being a bad person and indulges intodrugs with his two friends. The efforts to brand himself a criminalfrustrates him as he encountered a chain of deadly events when he hadaccompanied his friends in search of trouble. He is bruised in combatwith Bobbie, and his tooth is chipped as well. After an encounterwith a corpse following the escape from alleged rape, the narrator isdisgusted by his course of action and breaks into tears.
The narrator at the greasylake has employed symbolic Baptism as he recalls his youthful life,particularly this night at the greasy pool. He, as well as hisfriends, had a strong attraction to the life of a criminal (OverviewN.p). However, during that fateful night, he managed to taste thedark side of the practice. He had a fierce confrontation with a realcriminal, Bobbie and as well tried assaulting his girlfriend. Thenarrator is seen retreating to the greasy lagoon where we canconclude that that is the repercussion of his immoral acts as well asthe immorality in the world.
Bobbie is the real evilcharacter in the play. He is described as a huge, greasy criminal wholikes vociferation. His masklike frontage, as well as his partialsteel-made boots contributed to his terrific appearance. He has beenused by the writer to represent ‘a man of action’ that theprotagonist, as well as his two friends, desire to be. Theprotagonist has a led a life that totally contrasts that of Bobbie asthey are merely adults and have led pampered lives with theirfamilies. They are also scared to death when the man charges at them,and they can barely handle him. However, his mighty reduced to groundlevel when the narrator hits him leaving him unconscious (Werlock22).
Comparison with MoralFailure of Postmodernism
Following the greasy lakeevent, we can see that the element of revelation is missing. Besides,the story symbolises the failure of moral character that is acontemplating issue in the modern world (Walker 1). The fictive canbe used as an introductory to the theme of failure in the moralnerve. Into the bargain, postmodernity addresses the issue onself-consciousness and intersexuality where the grip of a personalimage on the norms of the society is limited to parody. The fictivetries to adapt an element of satire but due to the absence of moralsits self-absorption functions as an auxiliary for a behavioural typeof view.
The characters in the GreasyLake are put in a world where they are given the capability tounderstand their surrounding and swing into action in response to theenvironment. The narrator terms himself as a naive adolescent who hada strong desire to be a criminal (Walker 3). Throughout thenarration, the protagonist mocks his behaviour and finds it ironic
The title of the play“greasy lake was derived from Bruce Springsteen`s “Spirit in theNight.” However, its location remains unknown. A dominantnostalgic mood is observed at the beginning of the play as the writerdelves into a period where being bad was seen as a good thing.Despite the time being unknown, heritage references indicate that itis the late 1970s (Plot Summary N.p).
According to the author, itis a one-night story where the characters are nineteen year olds whowent on a holiday trip from school. They spent their time doingdrugs, mimicking bad people and drove to the stagnant lake where theyfound a prestigious ancient car parked alongside a motorcycle. It wasaround 2.00 am, and Digby reclaimed that the car resembled theirfriend’s, Tony Lovet, who was petting with his girlfriend (PlotSummary N.p). They thought it interesting to make a notoriousinterruption to the two. However, they realised that the occupant ofthe car was a stranger and a thug. The fellow is agitated for theinterruption and charges very carefully at the teenagers.
However, in self-defence,the protagonist knocks the stranger to unconsciousness where he laylifelessly unsure of whether they had killed him. His girlfriendalighted the car calling the teenagers animals. Furiously, the groupdecided to molest her, but they are distracted by the arrival of asports car. The boys fled into the bushes along the lagoon as thenarrator dived into the greasy pool (Plot Summary N.p).
While in the shallow lake,the protagonist came upon a corpse and yelled out loudly. The girlspotted him and recognised him as one of the boys who almost molestedher. At this point, the narrator heard Bobbie`s voice, and he feltrelaxed that he was not dead. Bobbie called the boys for a fight, butthey were reluctant to show up. Hopelessly, Bobbie and his newfriends went and vandalised the narrator’s car, which technicallybelonged to his mother. The girlfriend pleaded with Bobbie that theyshould leave. The two men also left along with them.
No sooner had the criminalsgone than the boys inspected the car and found out that they couldstill ride it. At sunrise, they spotted the car keys and just beforethey could leave, a mustang pulled up with two women, one of them hadobviously been under the influence of drugs. She walked up to thenarrator whereas the other walked to the motorcycle calling out fortheir friend Al. The narrator assumes that Al is the dead man he camealong, but he kept quiet(Plot Summary N.p).
Moreover, the stoned womanoffered some pills to the narrator who quickly declined the offer.Instead, they got into the battered motor car and sped off. As thenarrator peeped behind, he could see the girl still stretching herhands towards him.
This play is a reflectionof modern American life with a more menacing feature. The narrator ofthe story is an adult who reflects on his youth life that he terms asfoolish. Regardless of the narrative having many burlesque features,it was also an induction liturgy for the participants. Theprotagonist almost becomes the evil character that he always envied.In the course of mimicking a bad person, the character came acrossAl’s corpse who had either been shot dead or drowned in the lake.
Allusions have been used inthe fictive where after fleeing, the narrator left fox screaming. Heremembers the Italian Sabine girls who were molested by Romans.Besides, in the period of the Holocaust, the Nazis captured AnneFrank and her family (Werlock 22). These two instances depict thatFox is the victim whereas the narrator and his friends are guilty.
Into the bargain, the writerhas used the car keys to emblem the relationship of the narrator andhis parents. Since he had decided to change his way of life, losingthe keys symbolised how he had distanced himself from his parents.
That said, the incidence ofa body depicts that a good prank can impedingly boomerang and to someextent stimulates the narrator to man up (Werlock 22). The fact thatthey had turned down the women’s invite for a party shows that theboys had lucubrated a caveat. In addition, when the young womanreferred to them as ‘evil’ they did not relish the name, as theywould have previously done. Instead, the narrator felt like he couldbreak into a cry. Into the bargain, the immaturity of the charactersis shown when they thought that they were acting cool as theyindulged in drugs. John, who was considering being a truant, vomitsthrough the car’s window whereas Digby always bragged about hiskarate skills, yet he could not handle Bobbie when he charged againstthem depicting their immaturity.
Boyle,T. Coraghessan. “Greasy Lake.” CompactLiterature:Reading, Reacting, and Writing. Eighth Edition: Fiction. Ed. LaurieG. Kirsznerand Stephen R. Mandell. Boston: Wadsworth-CengageLearning, 2013. 573-580. Print.
Walker,Michael. "Boyle`s `Greasy Lake` And The Moral Failure ofPostmodernism." Studies in Short Fiction 31.2 (1994): 247.Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 June 2016
"Overview:`Greasy Lake`." Short Storiesfor Students. Ed. Sara Constantakis.Vol. 34. Detroit: Gale, 2012. LiteratureResource Center. Web. 23 June 2016.
"PlotSummary: `GreasyLake`." DISCoveringAuthors.Detroit: Gale, 2003. StudentResources in Context.Web. 23 June 2016.
Werlock, AbbyH. P. "`Greasy Lake`." TheFacts On File Companion to the American Short Story,Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009.