Life Changing Journey in "Greasy Lake"

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The Life-Changing Journey

In the short story, “Greasy Lake,” written by author T. Coraghessan Boyle, we read about the gruesome discovery that the unidentified narrator himself comes across on one particular summer night while seeking adventure with his two friends. The teenage boys all of equal age believe they are “bad” and unfortunately they learn the hard way about the consequences of being mischievous when they visit the infamous Greasy Lake. The suburban boys find more than what they are looking for and sure learn from their experience of reaching adulthood. Boyle uses first-person narration to allow the nineteen year old boy to tell us the story first-hand and give us room for our very own interpretation. The anonymous narrator, the protagonist, does indeed take upon a life changing journey that fits several elements of the hero journey pattern as articulated by Joseph Campbell in his summary of the steps of the Hero’s Journey.

The first step that the narrator unknowingly takes on is “the call to adventure”. According to Joseph Campbell, this is the initial point of a hero journey in which a person is given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not. Boyle has the young narrator tell us how his unforgettable experience begins. He informs us that on back to back nights he and his friends were out till dawn looking for something that they never found. On the other hand, the third night, turned out to be a different story. “On this, the third night, we’d cruised the strip sixty-seven times, been in and out of every bar and club we could think of in a twenty-mile radius…It was 2:00 A.M.; the bars were closing. There was nothing to do but take a bottle of lemon-flavored gin up to Greasy Lake.” The narrator explains that they would go to Greasy Lake because everyone went there to spend time drinking beer, smoke pot, and such related activities. The decision to head to Greasy Lake late at night pronounces “the call to adventure”...
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