The characters stories "A&P" by John Updike, "Greasy Lake" by T. Boyle, and James Joyce's "Araby" are all similar in that they are young characters who all experiences a moment of insight in their life. The three stories discuss the theme of young boys, through certain events in their lives, leads to a closer step into manhood. However, there are differing influences and factors that routes them into their epiphanies.
The protagonist of the story in "Greasy Lake" is the narrator himself, whose name is never given. The main characters are nineteen years old and is different in that, unlike Sammy or the boy in Araby, thought it was "good to be bad" (p129) and tried to go against the rules, it was time when "courtesy and winning ways went out of style." (p129). The setting seems to be around 1960's when it was cool to be a dangerous character, "We wore torn-up leather jackets, slouched around with toothpicks in our mouths, sniffed glue and ether and what somebody claimed was cocaine." (p129). The narrator and his friend's merely want-to-be tough guys, when in fact the narrator drives his parents whining Bel Air Oldsmobile, whose parents also pay for their education. They are students who actually read, for example "Andre Gide," which contrasts with the real image of tough guy they try to represent, who doesn"t care about anything. They are anything but bad guys, for the narrator writes when he goes for the tire irons to use against the greasy, muscle bound character that he had never used it as a weapon before. The only time he got in a fight in his life was in the 6th grade. .
The characters are young and very immature. The narrator writes cool as dressing, acting, and talking in bad way with a bad attitude. When he described his friends who were supposed to be cool the narrator writes, "They were both experts at the social graces, quick with a sneer." (p129). All of this leads them to trouble near the dark "murky and fetid" Greasy Lake where they get "tar" beat out of them by a man with the 57" Chevy, a muscle car representative of its tough guy owner.