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Greasy Lake by T.C. Boyle

             Boyle's "Greasy Lake", is the story of a man's youthful and life-changing experience. The unnamed narrator vividly elaborates about a night he and his friends venture out to Greasy Lake and find more than they were looking for. In this first person narration, Boyle uses symbolism to show how the transition from youth to adulthood cannot only be difficult, but can also lead to dangerous places and expose the moral deficits of society.
             The lake plays an important role and an appropriate setting for the story, and it's also symbolizes the morality of mankind. "The Indians had called it Waken, a reference to the clarity of its waters."" (Boyle 573) This is clearly a reference to an earlier American lifestyle, when "courtesy and winning ways,"" (573) were prominent attributes in society. In postmodern America, for the most part, ideals are no longer based on a moral compass. .
             "Now it is (was) fetid and murky."" (573) The description of the island in the middle of Greasy Lake has duel meanings. First, it symbolizes mankind's negligent treatment of the earth; "stripped of vegetation it looked as if the air force had strafed it,""(573) signifying the many locations that have been left barren by man's selfish endeavors. Secondly, and more pertinent to the theme of the Boyle's story, it symbolizes the barren soul of man soul if he leads the life of a "dangerous character"" (573). The image of the lake and its barren island symbolize and foreshadow the events of the evening that lie ahead of the nameless narrator. Unlike the lake's symbolism of mankind's morality as a whole, the vehicles driven by the different characters symbolize the varying degrees or stages of corruption an individual will experience in a life of immorality. .
             In the story "Greasy Lake", three 19-year-old boys think they're dangerous characters because they wear leather jackets, experiment with drugs, have sex, and listen to rock and roll.

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