Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessan Boyle

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Authors often use a variety of literary instruments to enhance the appeal of their works or to convey a specific meaning. In addition to expressing their personal experiences by writing, the instruments are intended to enable the reader to derive different conclusions from the same. The irony is an often-used device. Greasy Lake is a novel about three nineteen-year-old men who live in the 1960s. It then depicts how the young men will leave their suburban neighborhoods to live a life of drinking beer, festering murk, howling at the stars, and listening to rock and roll. As a result, this paper will concentrate on the irony of this story. The chief irony is entailed in the characters themselves. It is rather ironic that apart from the lake being referred to as Greasy Lake, the characters hanging there also possess greasy behaviors. The three individuals in focus always found themselves in greasy situations. As they are involved in a huge fight, they even attempt to rape a girl from the other group. More people then join in all in the presence of the greasy lake. As much as they tried to counter the different conflicts, they would always encounter greasier characters surrounded by the greasy lake. They perceived themselves as “bad characters” going to Greasy Lake; a place where darkness and danger were in abundance.

It is rather ironic that these characters believed they were bad, yet in reality, they were not. This is proven by aspects like their vehicle, and their shock after the real greasy character they smash with the tire iron falls down. The three are even shocked by their actions and even towards the end of the story as the girls try to invite them to a party, they are all too afraid and only want to go home and perhaps lick their wounds. Apparently, this can be perceived as the coming age as the three are now cognizant of their behaviors. Ironically, the characters do not learn anything from experience and even show no remorse on the dead body in the greasy lake.

In a rather ironical twist, nature plays a significant role in depicting the good and bad as well as the idea intertwined within the human nature. For example, the lake was previously perceived as clean and beautiful even though the name suggested otherwise. Nonetheless, it would later live up to its anticipated depiction i.e. dangerous and terrible countering the previous perception. In this writing, the author clearly outlines how setting can directly influence character as well as the experiences entailed in the same. The lake almost mirrors the characters within this tale. The author further emphasizes on the irony in the relation between the characters and the lake via the word “nature.” For instance, the narrator states that the individuals “plunge into the festering murk, drink beer, smoke pot, howl at the stars” that conveys the relationship between the notorious teen boys and disgusting lake.

In conclusion, water in literature typifies transition and spirituality. However, it begins to show its murky nature indicating the behaviors of the three boys. Even though the lake should be a symbol of spirituality, the same is not portrayed in the tale since all the evil things happen in its presence. Nonetheless, it represents its true transition nature as the teenagers realize their actual characters i.e. they are good kids. The entire story is an irony compounding many teenagers even in the contemporary globe. As much as they may think they are “bad” the reality states otherwise. When they come of age, they realize their actual characters.

Works Cited

Dario. (2009, May 19). Setting: Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessan Boyle. Retrieved from

David, L. C. (2016, May 18). Summary and Analysis of T.C. Boyle's "Greasy Lake". Retrieved from

Springsteen, B. (1985). Greasy Lake. Retrieved from

Walker, M. (2006). Boyle’s ‘Greasy Lake’ and the Moral Failure of Postmodernism.

January 20, 2022



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