Greasy Lake Character Analysis

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     The narrator of T.C. Boyle's "Greasy Lake" appears to be the ultimate rebel upon first glance. The unnamed main character goes out of his way to appear "bad" to his friends and anyone around him. The narrator explains that he wore leather jackets, drove his parents' station wagon and drank gin and grape juice to produce the effect of being intimidating and cool to others. By the end of the story when the narrator has the chance to continue his false image of being a badass, he decides to take another route.

      I wanted to write about the narrator about Greasy Lake because I found him to be really pretentious and agravating. His character is shown when he says: "We were bad. We read Andre Gide and struck elaborate poses to show that we didn't give a shit about anything." This quote is also significant because it sums up his actions by pretending to be bad to the point of having to be elaborate in getting the message across. The narrator is round because he does all these different things to appear rebellious, like sniffing glue and "...what somebody claimed was cocaine." I would also say that he is dynamic because he changes at the end of the story.

      The first sign of the narrator's change appears when he discovers the body in the lake. Before this happened he and his friends were flashing the lights of their car at another car, then they get in a fight with a "...very bad greasy character" and then they try to rape a girl. When the narrator swam through the Greasy Lake to get away he found a dead body,Al, and from then on the narrator begins to stray from putting on a show of being "bad." All he wants to do is get back to the car and leave Greasy Lake; he doesn't try to start everything up again or do something worse than before.

      When the narrator and his friends regroup they don't express any signs of being proud of what they had done. When the narrator finds the keys in the grass he describes them as being"...jewels in the first tapering shaft of sunlight." This is a sign that the narrator truly wants to leave Greasy Lake because he sees the simple appearance of keys as something precious. This could also be symbolic of the narrator wanting to get away from the person he was trying to be.

     The most significant sign of the narrator's character was towards the end when the drunk girl looking for Al (decomposing in the lake) asks is he and his friends wanted to party with her and her friend. The narrator expresses character development when he says: "I wanted to get out of the car and retch, I wanted to go home to my parents' house and crawl into bed." He then says that he felt like he was about to cry when she asks if they wanted to do drugs with the girl and her friend. In the end he didn't stay with the girls which was something he would have done if he truly was as "bad" as he thought himself to be.

      The author presents this character as being far from anything good or wholesome. He makes the character out to be flawed and desperate to be rebellious that the narrator really has no choice but to change from his usual ways. I think the author also made the narrator change because it wouldn't be satisfying for the reader if he had stayed with the girls, it would have made the narrator flat and disappointing. But since the narrator's character was altered at the end it showed that the narrator was capable of change.

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Comments 4 comments

Bookworm101 6 years ago

I hated Greasy Lake, the narrator was unrepentant, it was only his fear of retribution, of being blamed for Al's death that took him away from the lake. The best part of this story was the 'bad boys' getting a much-deserved ass whooping.

I do appreciate you point of view, but the aspect of a mindless gang-rape put me off, big time.


Ari  6 years ago

bookworm101, if you actually read and analyzed the story you would have caught on to the fact that they didn't rape the girl. they sound like savages, you cant rip spandex,


htodd profile image

htodd 4 years ago from United States

Great hub ..Thanks for the post


hotdaughter 2 years ago

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