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Greasy Lake vs a&P

By darrenvo1019 Jul 02, 2012 1059 Words
“Greasy Lake” vs. “A&P”
According to the dictionary, setting is defined as “the surroundings and environment of anything,” or “ the locale or period in which the action of a novel, play, film, and etc.”. When writers begin writing their story, they must think about where and when the story will take place. It is important because the setting creates the mood and the world of the story. Although the stories “A&P” by John Updike and “The Greasy Lake” by T.C. Boyle are completely different when it comes to the setting, both of their settings are almost as important as the actual story itself. In the short story “A&P”, it is very important that the reader visualize the setting because it leads to the theme of the story, which is in life one must take major risk in order to be successful. The setting isn't as obvious in “A&P” because you have to read in between the lines, but once you start realizing all the little details, you realize how much Sammy hates his job. This story takes place in a small town grocery store. Since it was a small town, there probably were not a lot of job opportunities out there. Sammy, the main character, was lucky enough to have a job at such a young age. Although he hated everything about his job, his manager, Lengel thought he should have been grateful for the opportunity to work and make money. You can tell Sammy hated his job by the way he described the customers. For example, he described one of the old ladies as “a witch about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows”. When he finally builds up the courage to quit, Lengel questions him trying to convince him that it is going to big make a mistake. Lengel says, “I don't think you know what you’re saying,” and “Sammy, you don't want to do this to your Mom and Dad.” He wanted to quit his job because there was no excitement where he worked, and nothing ever changed. The most exciting thing about his job was when “three girls in nothing but bathing suits” walked in. These girls weren't the typical “sheep” that came into the store. The fact that they just walked into the conservative store with nothing but a two piece on shows how disobedient they were. At that point, when Sammy had met them, he realized how he couldn't work in the grocery store for the rest of his life. He says he knows “how hard the world would be hereafter”, but he knew he couldn't turn back. It was time for him to move on to bigger and better things. On the other hand, the story, “The Greasy Lake”, has a completely different setting. The narrator tries to make it seem as disgusting as possible. He describes it as “fetid and murky, the mud banks glittering with broken glass and strewn with beer cans and the charred remains of bonfires.” Judging by the environment, the reader can already assume that bad stuff has or will be happening there. The boys represents what is wrong with today’s youth. In the beginning of the story, the three young boys believe that they are “bad characters”. They “wore torn-up leather jackets, slouched around with toothpicks in our mouths, sniffed glue and ether and what somebody claimed was cocaine.” They also drank, smoked, and stayed out late. Unlike Sammy from “A&P”, these three boys lived they there were no rules to live by and they were invincible. After getting into a fight, the boys flee into the lake because reinforcement had arrived. The lake was also known “Wakan, a reference to the clarity of its water”. This is an important detail because the water represents the rebirth. It is ironic how there is a dead body in the lake, which the main character discovers because it was a reality check for him. He realizes that if he keeps on going around looking for trouble like he did that night, he will end up like Al, a dead body floating in the lake. Once everyone had cleared out, the three boys come out of the lake as new people. All they wanted to do was go home and lay in their nice warm comfortable beds. On the way out of the parking lot, the two girls who are looking for Al, offers the boys some drugs and alcohol. Surprisingly they rejected her offer and say, “No, thanks. Some other time.” The old bad characters would have accepted the offer in a heartbeat, but they have learned that if you go out looking for trouble, you will definitely find it and regret it. In both stories, the setting was very important. Imagine if the setting in both stories were switch around, it would not make any sense at all. This shows how important the environment of the story is. In “A&P” the setting represents order, and in “The Greasy Lake” the lake represents unrighteousness and corruption. The setting in “The Greasy Lake” was more obvious because you could just tell that bad things were going to happen there. In John Updike's story, he creates a world where there is no excitement, and everyone is very judgmental, but in T.C. Boyle's story, he creates a world where you never know what is going to happen and every night is an adventure ( good or bad ). The readers' imagination would definitely have to be more important in “A&P” because the author doesn't just tell us how much Sammy hates his job. He shows us numerous examples. In conclusion, the setting was a playground for both short stories. Even though the setting of every story may be completely different, it all had the same purpose. The purpose of the setting is to take the reader into the writers' world. John Updike does a excellent job of using the setting of the lake to make the readers feel uneasy, and keep them on their toes wondering what is going to happen next. T.C. Boyle also does an superb job in using setting to show us how Sammy feels, and helps us realize that we should never settle for less than we deserve.

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