"Greasy Lake" Literary Analysis

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Sarah Austin AP Lit/Comp Mr. Engesether 12 November 2014 “Greasy Lake” The story of “Greasy Lake” is much more than that of some teenage bad boy looking for trouble. It is the story of that bad boy coming to this horridly perfect place to find the evil he thinks he wants to become. His exposure to the cruel elements of the lake and of the real world, so eloquently depicted by Boyle, leads to his downfall. The author’s effective descriptions of the city, the lake, and the parking lot create the chilling tone the bad boy’s downfall warrants. The author of “Greasy Lake”, T. Coraghessan Boyle, writes in a way that the reader can tell he meant to make the story seem as dark as possible, even before any real action takes place. This is shown in various descriptions of the characters and setting. One example of this is the description of one of the streets in the city. Boyle writes, “Through the center of town, 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: that was the way our to Greasy Lake”. Some of the key words and phrases from this passage that establish the tone are “street lights giving way”, “thin streaming”, and “black unbroken wall”. Even the time of day, late at night, is a significant contributing factor in the darkness that is to come. All of this stimulating imagery gives the reader a taste for the darkness to come, and there hasn’t been any significant action yet. Another perfect example of the dreary tone used in this story is the description of the lake. At one point, Boyle compares the algae covered surface of the lake to scabs on skin. This is almost excessively strong visual imagery that is certainly effective in creating a horrifying mood. The lake itself is described as “fetid and murky,

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