Setting In Greasy Lake

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Setting: Greasy Lake Essay Setting: Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessan Boyle In his short story “Greasy Lake,” T. Coraghessan Boyle employs the setting to reflect the state of morality and corruption of a society’s youth, create an appropriate atmosphere, and better develop the characters of the story. Boyle is able to achieve this by centering the story at the Greasy Lake and utilizing the Lake as both a setting and character. Greasy Lake is described by the narrator in a deliberately appalling to the average reader. However, the narrator and his friends see the lake as the most favorable location to spend their days and late nights. The lake itself is described as “fetid and murky, the mud banks glittering with broken glass and strewn with beer cans and the charred remains of bonfires.” (130) However, as the narrator explains, the lake was not always like this but instead was named “Wakan” by “the Indians”, the name being “a reference to the clarity of its waters.” (130) The complete change of the lake since the time of the Indians, from clear to murky, exemplifies the corruption of the society’s morals, especially in contrast to the Native Americans who praised and looked after the land. The Wakan, or Greasy Lake, is a symbol for the youth culture itself in the story and is littered, literally and metaphorically, by alcohol, sex and violence. Through the use of the setting as a symbol of corruption and sin, Boyle creates a wild and uncertain atmosphere. In doing so, he allows the characters to have more freedom and gives the story more believability as the events become more extreme. Along with making the action more believable, the setting helps to make the characters more believable. The narrator often describes himself and his friends as “bad characters” (133) and this becomes more convincing as the narrator describes what he and his friends did at the
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