Fiction Analysis of "Greasy Lake" by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1388 Words
Date:  2022-07-01


In the fiction story "Greasy Lake" by Tom Coraghessan Boyle portrays the powerful and parallel nature of good versus bad traits intertwined within human nature. Boyle uses a lake 'Greasy Lake' by symbolic demonstrating its significance and relationship to the antagonist and protagonist characters in the story. Through this representation of the plot's setting the author is able to communicate to his audience the direct reflection it creates to the characters and their encounters in the plot. At the beginning of the narration, Boyle gives the impression that the teenage narrator and his companions were bad boys in search of their identity which was obviously not the case. Narrating the fiction of the encounters of the group of boys gives the author the insight to illustrate the illusion representation of teenagers in the society as they try to identify themselves with heroic acts that are far beyond their abilities. This paper will conduct a fiction analysis as applied by Boyle to demonstrate the literary devices applied to develop different themes in the narration.

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Fiction analysis is used to unearth the illusional representation of fiction in an imaginary story to show the perception between unreality and reality (Kirszner & Mandell, 2017). The lake 'Greasy' plays a significant role throughout the story. It is a metaphoric reflection mirroring the characters' traits. Initially, Boyle gives the story the title greasy lake as the symbolic representation of the lake and its role in the narration. The greasy, shiny or oily representation of the lake's characteristics symbolizes that the plot setting is featured in a place that was to show reflect the type of characters the author used in the story. Again, the name represents the social ills in the society as a hyperbole illustration of the changes of the character traits (Schirova 2012). In the beginning, the lake was given an Indian name Wakan to signify cleanness and purity but at the times of the narration, the lake had turned into a dumpsite to hide all dirt perpetrated by the youths who went there to abuse substances and alcohol. The author describes the lake as "fetid and murky, the mud banks glittering with broken glass and strewn with beer cans" (688). Boyle also uses symbolism to describe the characters as greasy signifying the similarity resemblance of the lake and the characters making them fond of the lakeside very much, when the narrator says, "We were bad. At night we went up to Greasy Lake..." (687). To show the symbolic importance of the lake environment was to the characters. The boys were trying to insinuate that they were bad and dangerous and they went to the lake late in the night to show how the setting was dangerous yet, they were familiar and identified themselves with the area. The onset of the narration gives the author's perception of dangerous personality through the narrator's voice when he says "We wore torn up leather jackets...drank gin and grape juice...sniffed glue and ether and what somebody claimed was cocaine" (124). This was to show the metaphoric representation of being greasy making intertwined connectedness with the lake and the boys.

Boyle uses symbolism to create the theme of self-identity and self-actualization. Although, the narrator uses strong compassion to describe him and his companions, Digby and Jeff, to be tough boys they are traveling to the lake in a station wagon which he refers to as a 'chopper' (689). This symbolic representation of the vehicle was exaggerated to show that what they boys perceived themselves to be capable was far from reality. Logically, bad boys do not travel in a station wagon, again he describes Digby to have taken defensive training but when they were attacked by a real bad boy he is blown off balance in a single knockback. Intertwining exaggeration, symbolism, and hyperbole, Boyle is able to illustrate to his audience the teenage identity crisis as he develops the theme of self-identity. The boys perceive themselves to know their way around the hostile environment they were trending of but when they are attacked they are rendered helpless. Using imagery to develop the theme of self-identity the author demonstrated the contrast between the narrator's group, the biker, and the Chevy owner. The types of vehicles each category of character uses shows imagery of their social stratification. The biker is described by the narrator to be dangerous by stereotype naming that even though the narrator opened the story stating he and his friends were 'bad boys' they realized that they were not.

As the story develops, the author applies the theme of endurance and self-defense. When the narrator and the group are attacked they try to overpower their attackers and they eventually chances their reality traits to their perceived personality. Boyle uses irony to show that the narrator perceived his friends as dangerous and bad but he ends up defending them with the tire iron that he keeps under the driver's seat of his mother's Bel Air station Wagon. Again, the mention of his mother's vehicle is an ironic illustration that though the group of teenagers perceived themselves as 'bad' they were dependent on their parents. The turn of events in the story shows a complete change in the characters' traits. They take up different characteristics in the story by changing their behavior as survival tactics to defend themselves from the hostile environment and situations they find themselves. The narrator changes from tepidness to aggressive and brutal person who knocks out a person and almost perpetrated rape. When he realizes he was becoming a tough guy he perceives that know he knew his self-identity in the new discoveries but his joy is short-lived. The narrator says "As the sun is rising and the songs of birds replacing the sounds of crickets, he leaves the pool of once dismal waters" (Boyle 688). To signify the rebirth of his new personality depicted as the author developed the theme of self-actualization and identity conflict.

The ironic circumstances in the story "Greasy Lake" depicts the repeat of incidences that the narrator is struggling with as a young person. The iron is depicted when the narrator perceives his group as inevitable because they were tough guys or bad character but when situations get out of hand he is forced to conceal himself in the dark water of the lake alongside with the dead body and silently watching his mother's vehicle being destroyed and vandalized (Palmerino 240). During this act, the narrator ironically narrates of his illusion of baptismal that transformed his character. Although he was in hiding under the water he ironically uses this cowardice act as a form of baptism to transform his self-identity by gaining confidence to defend him from vulnerability. In this development of character, the author applies the theme of doctrine to show cult religious beliefs perceived by the characters to transform their thinking and behavioral conduct. Using the dark side baptism the narrator is given the powers to fight his fears in a retrogressive believed of a dark side doctrine. This baptism symbolically represents the immorality of the world the characters were living in and the strong perceptions of the powers emanating from the lake to change their lives.


In conclusion, the story "Greasy Lake" by Boyle T. Coraghessan is developed in a fiction to demonstrate the development of the characters and the symbolic representation of the plot setting. The author uses symbolism, irony, metaphor, hyperbole, and exaggeration to develop the illusion themes that drive the narration. Boyle gives the impression that the teenage narrator and his companions were bad boys in search of their identity which was obviously not the case. Narrating the fiction of the encounters of the group of boys gives the author the insight to illustrate the illusion representation of teenagers in the society as they try to identify themselves with heroic acts that are far beyond their abilities

Works Cited

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. Greasy Lake: It's about a mile down on the dark side of Route 88, Bruce Springsteen, 1985, p. 987 - 694.

Kirszner, Laurie G. & Mandell, Stephen R. Ed. Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 9th Edition, Wadsworth, 2017.

Palmerino, Gregory. "'This was Nature': Growing Death and the Necrophilous Character in T. C. Boyle's 'Greasy Lake.'" Explicator 75.4 (2017): 239-241.

Schirova, I. A. How to Analyze Fiction retrieved from on 10th July 2018.

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Fiction Analysis of "Greasy Lake" by T. Coraghessan Boyle. (2022, Jul 01). Retrieved from

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