Greasy Lake

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Smells Like Teen Spirit: An analysis of the characters in T. C. Boyle’s Greasy Lake

Three nineteen year-old boys drunk with alcohol and high on life on the third night of summer back from college are looking for a place to let loose and be themselves. They make the drive past the strip and into a place where there the “trees crowding the asphalt in a black unbroken wall” (Boyle 125). It was a place of muddy and murky waters where broken glass bottles, beer cans, and charred bonfire remains were abundant. Inspired by a song written and performed by Bruce Springsteen, an iconic 1970’s rock artist, T. Coraghessan Boyle’s “Greasy Lake” is a tale of teen spirit at its finest. It oozed of rebellion and recklessness, but it also describes how a night of fun can quickly turn and how that night became a pivotal moment for self-proclaimed “bad” boys to grow into maturity. From the beginning of the story, the narrator over exaggerates how “bad” he and his friends are. He elaborates his claim by explaining that he and his cohorts flaunt leather jackets, drive their parents’ cars in the late hours of the night, and that they drive up to Greasy Lake to “drink beer, smoke pot…savor the incongruous full-throated roar of rock and roll against the primeval susurrus of frogs and crickets” (Boyle 126). The irony in this is that though they make themselves appear independent and that they are certain of life, the narrator states that he is driving his mother’s Bel Air, Jeff is unsure of this plans for the future, and Digby is attending school at Cornell at his parents’ expense. It can be presumed that these boys are not in despair, and that they live fairly comfortable lives, so what would give them reason to act out? According to a study conducted by John Hagan of the University of Toronto, their deliberate act of rebellion suggests that these adolescent boys that are on the verge of adulthood are looking for means to deal with the stress of supply and demand that the real world...
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