The Power of Wakan

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FEBRUARY 4, 2006
In "Greasy Lake" by T. Coraghessan Boyle, the setting is a character that changes throughout the story, much as the narrator changes and grows through his experiences. Greasy Lake is a place where good boys go to learn to be bad. This story is about a time "when you cultivated decadence like a taste." (Boyle 144) You can tell by the first few paragraphs that you must pay great attention to the setting in this story to fully grasp what Boyle is trying to convey. Greasy Lake is a world apart from the town the narrator spends his days in. During the day he would act as his parents expect, and at night, he could escape to the other worldly Greasy Lake and be bad. It's a place where the good boys go to learn from the bad. The narrator says "we drank gin and grape juice, Tango, Thunderbird, Bali Hai. We were nineteen. We were bad." (144) They tried to act like they didn't care, and one way they did this was going to Greasy Lake. In describing the way to Greasy Lake "up the strip, past the housing developments and shopping malls, street lights giving way to the thin streaming illumination of the headlights, trees crowding the asphalt in a black unbroken wall…" you get the feeling of being transported from one character -the ho-hum daily life where everyone works nine to five- to another -the lake itself, the antagonist of the story. (144) Greasy Lake was once a beautiful, clean place, as we can tell from the Indian name, Wakan. Boyle makes it sound as though it was not good the way it was, and it is better now that it is "…fetid and murky…mud banks glittering with broken glass and strewn with beer cans and the charred remains of bonfires." (144) The lake has now gained acceptance of the bad boys of this time period, the lake is worthy of becoming their hangout. The narrator indicates many times throughout the story that they go there specifically because of the bad things that...
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