Critical Lens

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It was once said: “Literature opens a dark window on the soul, revealing more about what is bad in human nature than what is good,” in other words every person has darkness hidden within him or her. Two works of literature that prove this statement true are “Greasy Lake” by T.C. Boyle and “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” by Tim O’Brien.

To begin, “Greasy Lake” demonstrates just how malicious a person can be. Boyle uses the characterization of the narrator to show how evil is hidden in every person. The narrator is characterized as greasy, bad and reckless. For example, when the narrator and his friends arrive at greasy lake they start a fight with a greasy character that is there with his girlfriend. While fighting the greasy character the narrator beats him with a tire iron and almost kills him. Also, after the narrator and his friend knock out the greasy character they attack his girlfriend and almost rape her. In addition, T.C. Boyle uses setting to show how a vile environment can bring out the darkness in people. Greasy lake is described as being covered in trash, run down, murky, and just plain disgusting. This type of atmosphere can bring out the worst in people. Additionally, later on in the story the narrator walks into the water and runs into something he thought was a log, however it was actually a dead body. Furthermore, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” shows how quickly a person can go from being good to being bad. To begin, the dynamic character Marry Anne Bell is described as a sweet girl in the beginning, but in the end is revealed to have a dark side. When Mary Anne first arrives in Vietnam she is this sweet innocent teenage girl who wears pink sweaters, short shorts, and makeup, but then she begins to change into someone new. The first real sign that she changed was she stopped wearing make up and her sweaters and begins learning how to assemble guns and operate on the wounded. She also begins to go on missions in the jungle with the...
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