Greasy Lake is the story of three friends who are bad characters. Until they run into a situation where they question, just how bad they are. Just because they act badly and look bad does not mean they are. They are teenagers in a period, “when courtesy and winning ways [are] out of style when it [is] good to be bad, when they [cultivate] decadence like a taste.” (112) They look bad, wearing torn-up leather jackets, slouching around with toothpicks in their mouths and wearing their shades morning, noon and night. They have the attitude, they drive their parents cars fast, and burn rubber as the pull out of the driveway. They have the bad habits. They drink “gin and grape juice, Tango, Thunderbird, and Bali Hai, [sniff] glue, and ether and what somebody [claims] [is] cocaine.”(112) What starts out as a harmless prank on the third night of their summer vacation turns into a situation where they get into a fight, attempt to rape a girl, find a dead body and see first hand the destruction a bad character can do to an automobile.
The night they lose their “badness” is nothing special. After the requisite bad character activities: egging mailboxes and hitchhikers, driving up and down Main Street, eating, drinking, and smoking pot. They decide to go up to the local hangout, *u*Greasy Lake*/u*, to see if anything is going on. They cruise up to the lake with their “lemon-flavored gin,” requisite pot and the itch for some action. There is no better place, for these three bad characters to hang out - *u*Greasy Lake*/u*, is an important place for bad characters to learn an important lesson. The lake, like the events about to unfold, is “fetid and murky…mud banks glistened with broken glass [,] strewn with be...
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...alizes: they may look and act like bad characters but they not, looks are deceiving. He and his friends learn a valuable lesson, “There will always be a character badder then they are” (a posting by T.C. Boyle at www.tcboyle.com, Boyle’s homepage) they also realize that but for an act of fate, anyone of them could be the guy floating in the lake.
The three friends learn valuable lessons from the experience they went through; never judge a book by it’s cover, never underestimate their opponents and most importantly, there truly is a difference between a bad character and a bad character wanna-be.
Boyle, T. Coraghessan. “Greasy Lake.” *u*An Introduction to Fiction*/u*. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 1999. 111-119
Panza, John, “Rough Draft Essay Response.” 25 Nov. 2000
www.tcboyle.com. Homepage. 12 Nov. 2000
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