Water is a powerful medium for introspection. This truth is evident in the short story, 'Greasy Lake,' by T. Coraghessan Boyle. In this story, water serves as a catalyst for self-reflection, as it propels the protagonist into a certain degree of conflict, and ultimately works to reveal and confront the character?s inner struggle.
In 'Greasy Lake,' the dualism of the characters' nature is ever-present. They are self-proclaimed bad guys who 'cultivated decadence like a taste' (79). As the story progresses, however, it is revealed that just the opposite is true. While they are essentially caricatures of themselves, it is this dynamic that drives the story. Their tough exterior is just that, an exterior veneer that permeates their actions as 'dangerous characters.' The narrator is somewhat detached from the younger self of his story. It is an ironic detachment'a parody of his moral ignorance. He recalls the 'bad? antics of his youth: driving their 'parents' whining station wagons,' but doing so as bad as humanly possible, of course. He mocks both himself and his friends in his retrospection of their experience in Greasy Lake, the consummate locale of 'bad.' To the boys, the lake serves as a kind of haven for bad characters such as themselves. Truly, however, the lake is an extension of the dynamic between who the boys are and who they parade around as. It is here where the previous and false understanding about their world is shattered, and they are thrust into a moralistic reformation. Ultimately, the dichotomous nature of the protagonist is resolved by his visit to the lake, and perhaps, the lake itself.
Water proves to be significantly influential as it relates to...
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...ll he can do is suppress his urge to cry. The protagonist?s realization of his own maturity is ironic. Once so eager to appear ?bad,? but lacking the true essence of this word, the narrator has achieved this status at the price of his naivete, and wishes that he could return.
In ?Greasy Lake,? water is a powerful entity. The lake works to reveal the true nature of the narrator and his friends. Water is in itself the most influential character of the story. It submerges the protagonist, both physically and metaphorically, in his own mentality. The lake serves as a great equalizer. It creates and resolves conflict, all to force the narrator to confront his weakness and reveal his strength.
Boyle, T. Coraghessan. ?Greasy Lake.? Doubletakes: Pairs of Contemporary Short Stories.
Ed. T. Coraghessan Boyle. Boston: Wadsworth, 2004. 79-87
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