Symbolism in "Greasy Lake"

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Although Jeff, Digby, and the narrator of the short story, “Greasy Lake” feel that their behavior is dangerous, rebellious, and “bad,” in reality the three nineteen year old boys are nothing of the sort. The narrator in, “Greasy Lake,” may describe the three boys as being “bad,” but the symbols that author T. Coraghessan Boyle places throughout the story depletes the bad boy images that they believe they possess. One symbol, for example, is the multiple vehicles that appear all through the story. Each vehicle symbolizes who is considered bad in the story and who is not. The narrator describes how he drives Jeff, Digby, and himself all throughout the town and to Greasy Lake in his mother’s station wagon. When they arrive at Greasy Lake, they discover a “mint, metallic blue” ’57 Chevy whom they believe belongs to another boy named Tony Lovett (126). However, instead of Tony Lovett, a “very bad character in greasy jeans and engineer boots” owns the car, and is inside of it with his girlfriend (127). Next to the Chevy stands a motorcycle, like a “gaunt chrome insect,” that seems to be abandoned (126). The descriptions of the motorcycle and the “greasy character,” both produce the tough image that the narrator, Jeff, and Digby yearn for, whereas the narrator’s mother’s “whining” station wagon does not (125, 127). When the narrator, Jeff, and Digby retreat to the woods and the lake after their attempted rape, the narrator’s car is demolished and trashed by the angry greasy man, and two “blond types [wearing] fraternity jackets” that appear in a Trans-Am. The demolition of the narrator’s car symbolizes how weak and vulnerable he is, like a little school boy getting beaten up by an older, tougher bully, and takes away whatever “bad” boy image he had left. After emerging from their hide outs in the lake, the boys return to their car the next morning and are greeted by two

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