Greasy Lake by T. C. Boyle and Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Greasy Lake by T. C. Boyle and Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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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 s...


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Trouble will always find the one that looks for it. This is the underlying message in both “Young Goodman Brown” and “Greasy Lake.” For the boys it was their encounter with characters that are much more “bad” then they ever thought they could be. They realize that this type of lifestyle is going to land them in serious trouble as long as they keep it up. For Goodman Brown, his decision to go out in to the woods on an evil errand ends up taking a hard toll on the remainder of his life. The witch Sabbath he “witnessed” has permanently affected his faith and his well-being. Both stories can be read as rebellious stories with action that will cause the demise of the characters, but both stories can be seen as warnings not to participate in something that will bring trouble upon one’s life. Whether the effects are long term or short term, they will never be good.

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