Greasy Lake Summary

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We often share large parts of our world view with our peers and our parents. That is because our environment is a key factor in defining who we are, and in the case of younger people, who we are to become. In the short story “Greasy Lake”, the narrator goes through a life changing event that begins to mold him into the person he will be. By using a mix of setting, allegory and characterisation in “Greasy Lake,” Tom Coraghessan Boyle brings forth the defining aspect of the late teenage years in young adults and how those years play a major role in the development of one’s world view.

For a start, Boyle makes use of the time and setting of the short story to portray a violent atmosphere. The short story is littered with aggressive connotations and military language, whether it is used to illustrate the environment or the actions of the characters. Early on in the story, the protagonist describes the island in the centre of greasy lake as “a single ravaged island a hundred yards from shore, so stripped of vegetation it looked as if the air force had strafed it” (132). Ravaged hints at the ever present aggression in the story whereas strafed and the air force refers to the militaristic undertone. In addition to this, the main character also references to well-known military events: “This was a tactical error, as damaging and irreversible in its way as Westmoreland’s decision to dig in at Khe Sanh” (133). Once again, the use of tactical marks the atmosphere as warlike. By
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