From Fox to Female
An Analysis of Male Behavior Towards the Women of T. Coraghessan Boyle’s “Greasy Lake”
Written as part of a short story collection, author T. Coraghessan Boyle’s “Greasy Lake” presents itself as a climactic account of one night in a less than savory young man’s life. Upon closer inspection “Greasy Lake” reveals a complex series of foreboding events that incorporate the innocence and ignorance males have when presented with different social scenarios and the female gender. Through his masterful use of the protagonists internal dialogue, Boyle’s artistry shows an evolving dynamic of indifference, aggression, and intimidation towards and by the women of “Greasy Lake”.
Boyle introduces females and their relative insignificance during the narrator’s exposition on what he, Jeff, and Digby are looking for when they travel to the lake. “We went up to the lake because everyone went there, because we wanted to snuff the rich scent of possibility on the breeze, watch a girl take off her clothes and plunge into the festering murk, drink beer, smoke pot, howl at the stars, savor the incongruous full-throated roar of rock and roll against the primeval susurrus of frogs and crickets” (Boyle 294). By grouping his objectification of females with other relatively mundane aspects of why the boys travel to the lake, Boyle makes the prospect of the female as irrelevant and routine as crickets chirping. Through the use of a recurring theme, another haphazard mention of females is made by the narrator when he explains they “debated going to a party of a girl Jeff’s sister knew” (Boyle 295). The young men opted to throw eggs at mailboxes and hitchhikers rather than meet up with the females, once again undermining the importance of females to the raucous youths. Such a variety of indifference is a mild assurance that trouble with females is not what the boys are after. However, that does not remain the case for long.
Later in the evening upon arriving at their intended destination, Boyle uses his narrators internal dialogue to escalate interest in the female element, once more signifying their evolving importance to the short story’s plot. In a somewhat derogatory, but slightly more interested capacity, the unnamed narrator theorizes about potentially seeing a woman’s breast, “for all we knew, we might even catch a glimpse of some fox’s tit, and then we could slap-backs with red faced Tony, roughhouse a bit, and then go on to new heights of adventure and daring” (Boyle 295). Through his diction and with the use of slang or rough language, Boyle establishes an implied lack of reverence for female anatomy and modesty on behalf of the narrator. While the second mention of women indicates the boy’s interest in women, it still relegates the role of females in the story.
Later in the plot, upon seeing a young woman exit the car subsequent to their conflict with the “bad greasy character” (Boyle 296), there is a dramatic shift in attitude towards...