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Greasy Lake

In: English and Literature

Submitted By isher000
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Greasy Lake:
Perception of Morality in T.C Boyle.
Thomas Coraghessan Boyle’s “Greasy Lake” is about rebelling and morality. Through the narrator’s perception and reality in life, he learns the distinction between what is right and wrong; these connections are crucial to one of the stories central themes. Ultimately, “Greasy Lake” teaches one the real nature of being rebellious is a mere perception conceived by each individual’s judgement of morality. The narrator’s lifestyle suggests an illusion of one’s perception of being rebellious. The narrator says, “We wore torn up leather jackets, slouched around with toothpicks in our mouths, wheeled our parents’ whining station wagons out onto the street” (144). The illusion one perceives “bad” is creating an image of a carefree attitude and staying out late with friends drinking while driving around late at night. Wearing rugged clothes with a hard demeanor portrays a rebellious attitude a teenager strives for in order to be “bad”. One associates drinking and staying out late to be a form of rebelling, a way of breaking rules and not obeying the laws. The narrator thinks he is living a rebellious lifestyle; however, it is an illusion of what he perceives to be “bad”.

The fight the narrator experiences, demonstrates the reality of being rebellious. The narrator reflects back in life, “Never mind that I hadn’t been involved in a fight since sixth grade” (146). Fighting always gives an individual the perception one must be “bad” or morally wrong in society. The narrator’s fight with the “ bad greasy” character demonstrates the rebellious attitude he has. He takes the tire iron to hit the “bad greasy” character showing who is more rebellious and dominant. The presence of the narrator in the fight, allows him to realize this is the reality of being “bad”; thus his perception of being rebellious is now an illusion to him. The attention the narrator receives from the girl illustrates the clarity of an individual’s morality of being rebellious. The narrator “[looks] back. The girl was still standing there watching us, her shoulders slumped, hand outstretched” (150). When the girl asks the group of boys “Hey, you want to party, you want to do some of these with me and Sarah?”’(150), the boys reject her and drive away. Looking back as they drive off, the narrator sees the girl, who symbolizes Greasy Lake calling them back, to show them the true meaning of “bad” and rebelling against anyone or anything. The narratorunderstands the morality of being “bad” is based on an individual’s own perception. Therefore the narrator learns the contrast between reality and perception of being rebellious. Ultimately, one’s perception of being rebellious is conceived by one’s own perspective. Based on an individual’s opinion of morality, one is able to distinguish the true nature of being “bad”. The story is limited in scope and a further study of violence and coming of age would be appropriate.

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