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Greasy Lake By T. C. Boyle And Young Goodman Brown, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

2067 words - 8 pages

How “bad” can one be when put in a seriously “bad” situation? “Greasy Lake,” written by T. Coraghessan Boyle, depicts some rebellious characters getting into situations that are too rebellious for them to handle. These various situations, as well as the characters themselves, tell the reader something more than what is actually happening in the story. This makes “Greasy Lake” an allegory, because it can be read at a literal level, but interpreted on a second, more meaningful level. The story of “Young Goodman Brown,” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, can be considered an older parallel to “Greasy Lake.” The main character, an adventurous young man, sets out to do an evil deed and finds himself witnessing something more evil than he can imagine. Both stories tell the reader that when one is looking for trouble, one will find it.
The setting of “Greasy Lake” is a very important element to the allegorical side of the story. As the story opens, the tone that is set is one with attitude. Rebellion is an obvious theme in the opening paragraph. From the “torn-up leather jackets” (Boyle 64) to the “parents’ whining station wagons” (64), everything has a sense of rebellion. The last line of the first paragraph claims, “At night, we went up to Greasy Lake” (64). Night is a very important element to the story. It is the time of day where one cannot see exactly what is going on or what is going to happen. The theme of darkness continues through the second paragraph of exposition. The road to get to Greasy Lake is dark and lined with thick trees that are described as a “black unbroken wall” (64). The lake itself is then described as “fetid and murky” (64). The name of the lake puts the grimy, black image of grease into the reader’s mind. It sets the scene for dangerous and rebellious things to happen. It is the prime location for teenagers to let loose and make themselves feel as “bad” as they want to feel. Greasy Lake can be seen as a “typical” teenage hang-out and it can be seen as a breeding ground for troublesome and malicious acts.
The characters in “Greasy Lake” can be viewed in different lights. The narrator and his two friends, Digby and Jeff, are three mean boys whose lives seem to be centered around getting drunk and high from dusk until dawn. The narrator praises Digby and Jeff for their slick and dangerous lifestyles. Their skills consist of dancing, drinking, and “rolling a joint as compact as a Tootsie Roll Pop stick” (65) while on a bumpy drive. These characters scream trouble. They seem like harmless teenagers out to have a good time but it can be interpreted that these characters will attract mischief. After a night of bar-hopping, dancing, eating, drinking, and smoking, they decide to continue the party with a bottle of gin on the shores of broken glass and charred wood. These characters can be interpreted as young, naive, wild, reckless fools. The decisions these kids have been making the entire night have not been good ones. They have...

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