An Analysis of the Topic of the Greasers of Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessan Boyles

The modern world is much like T. Coraghessan Boyles short story Greasy Lake. In a society based on grunge, teenagers make an attempt at a lifestyle pushing the limits of morality. The setting takes place near a run down polluted lake where people go to party and hangout. Identities are created and discovered. The three greasy characters of this essay are of the average punk rock n rollers, creating a theme of unforgettable revelation. What was once sweet is only bittersweet; in the end the James Dean aspect of life seemed better lived in the imagination rather than in real life.

As the title implies, Greasy Lake is the place for actionof all sorts. What was once a serene and beautiful lakeideal for meditationbecame run down with marijuana stubs, beer cans, and liquor bottles. The only thing clean would be the heart of town, which remains quiet and dead because the teens feel the outskirts are whats in. The street lights [gave way to the thin steaming illumination of the headlights, [with] trees crowding the asphalt in a black unbroken wall … (Boyle 129).

The rundown lake offers a place to hangout, lacks the threat of parents, and offers the opportunity to meet new faces and encounter new experiences. Such a setting is also ironic, for the lake holds a floating corpse, the reminiscing of bad memories, and emits an aura of violent anger. Like Boyles relation to Springsteen, silts about a mile down the dark side of Route 88 (Boyle 129).

And the analogy is accurate.

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The environment produces the rotten attitude of such youth. Never learning from their experiences, such young men desire the taste of rebellion but are uncertain with how to confront the scent and yet, savor it. With flesh looming before their eyes, the boys have yet to realize that they have no life. If the girls have no interest in any crowd but their own, the boys are merely asking for trouble. Nonetheless, what else is to be expected from Greasy Lake?

The term greaser can be used to describe the main character, nameless, and his two dangerous partners, Digby and Jeff. As James Dean wannabes, these young fellows trudge on the darker side of life on the weekendsalong with the crowds previously arrived. It is logical to assume that the individuals live in a typical house with a white picket fencethey do drive their mamas and papas whining station wagons (Boyle 129). With bad boy style, they wore torn-up leather jackets … and sniffed glue … among other things (Boyle 129). Along with the other teens, they went up to the lake because everyone went there … to snuff the rich scent of possibility (Boyle 129). The youth encountered an occasional fight or two on a murky Saturday night and often dreamed of the chance with a young girl in the back of the parents wagon. These encounters mixed with the wrong substances only seem to enhance the greatness of such a location or hangout. Its great… but for all the wrong reasons.

The problem of these youths, frustrated in their efforts to find a suitable outlet for their passions and energies was that they desired to be bad, but only wanted to have the look (McCaffery). Once the main character encounters the two hopeless girls looking for Al and realizes the corpses identity, life isnt as sweet on the wild side.

One of the most common practices of the twentieth-century short story was presenting a sudden insight to a character under pressure (

Walker). With the attempt of rape a failure, and the bludgeoned identity of each other, the boys soon realize that they are not as cool as they thought they seemed. Losing battles they thought they could win and not being successful with stealing innocence, proved to the nineteen-year-olds that trouble was never a once-in-a-lifetime thingit always loomed around the corner. With the mixture of alcohol and drugs in their systems, trouble always seemed inviting. Under any circumstance fear offers death and the torture of survived life. Nothing can be fixed and lives cannot be reconstructed when harm is inflicted and memories are dampened. But whats the substantiality of all of these matters when the life of a rebel is what seems the ultimate.

Boyle evokes compassion for the broadest… targetsElvis imitators … [and] his protagonists reserve their harshest judgments for themselves (Dee). When the girl called for help and it arrived, the (tlight jeans, stiletto heels, [and] hair like frozen fur wasnt as appetizing at she seemed (Boyle 135). Trouble had its price and the main character encountered this revelation when he found Al. Not knowing how Al reached his death, the main character was confronted with the life that was stolen and was faced with realitytruth hurts. If one is to play with fire, he will get burned. Although some of the instances are hilarious, [t]he humor is darker and more momentary, because every second of trouble is crucial (Dee).

Greasy Lake offers the dazzle of invention and the systematic undercutting of the ordinary (Pinsker). The territory comes with bad boysbut the true dangerous ones. The main character and his friends do not realize that in order to be bad, they must depreciate every individual that cuts in front of them on the highway and have revenge against any girl that responds with No. One blow to the wrong temple and the agitating of one girl can place one of the boys behind bars. Whats the point in wanting to live like a rebel, if life cant be lived in the open. The penitentiary offers a life beyond rebellionit makes reality seem easy.

It seems that after Al is found and a girl resists, the teenage bad boys have realized that they had enough. In the end, two girls ask the boys to go party with them and only offer intent looks upon their faces and whatever remains underneath their clothing. The boys resist the eye candy and respond with [s]ome other time (Boyle 136). A dead corpse; an attempted rape; and an unruly night. The boys have had enough; living the life of James Dean and the idealistic bad boy was just too hardcore. After all, mom and dad trusted them with the carnot the shagging wagon.

The overall theme of the novel is simple: the life idolized is bittersweet. The boys were expert[s] in the social graces and aspired to be many things greater than what they were capable. Pimping around in mom and dads car was a lot sweeter than having to maintain a Harley; acting like a rebel was better than having to beat up an individual who, one had never met; having a girl than actually having to force her would be even more memorable. The things that were given were realized to be greater than those forced to be received.

Hanging out with friends and being a teen is something that is ordinarily expected. The teens at Greasy Lake are teens that have yet to discover their true selves. Many live in the shadows of what parents want them to be and others do drastic things to gain attention and fit in with the crowd. In a sense, the main character, Digby and Jeff are a head above the restthey realized what they do not want to bea greaser. Alcohol and drugs may make the life of the party, but what doesnt make the party, is when there remains no true life to live. Its all an act. Is it truly fun faking?

In the end, what the young boys idolized was what was uncertain and unexpected. They would have eventually lived the life of fallen angels (Walker). Before the legendary night at the lake, the boys were certain that their life would have been lived the best being feared by others; but whats the point in living a life that has to inflict fear thats not natural. A rebel is naturally feared and gawked upon. Its not a glamorous life. The setting of Greasy Lake provided the vibe of rebellion and mischief. The main character, Digby and Jeff grew accustomed to the lifestyle and the aura, but were rebels themselves in the end. Life turned out to be the sweetest, when it was lived correctlyin the right light and atmosphere. Only then could the true identities be truly idolized and cherished.

Again, whats the point in living a life thats not true? It only emits heartache and unwanted trouble from the uncertain depths of a hangout called Greasy Lake. In the end, uncertainty has its price.

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An Analysis of the Topic of the Greasers of Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessan Boyles. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from

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