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Short Story Analysis--T.C. Boyle's "Greasy Lake"

An analysis of T.C. Boyle's short story "Greasy Lake" for an AP Literature and Composition course.

Gina Bernard

on 5 August 2013

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Transcript of Short Story Analysis--T.C. Boyle's "Greasy Lake"

"The Indians had called it Wakan, a reference to the clarity of its waters. Now it was fetid and murky, the mud banks glittering with broken glass and strewn with beer cans and the charred remains of bonfires. There was a single ravaged island a hundred yards from shore, so stripped of vegetation it looked as if the air force had strafed it. We went up to the lake because everyone went there, because we wanted to snuff the rich scent of possibility on the breeze, watch a girl take off her clothes and plunge into the festering murk, drink beer, smoke pot, howl at the stars, savor the incongruous full-throated roar of rock and roll against the primeval susurrus of frogs and crickets. This was nature" (130).
"We wore torn-up leather jackets, slouched
around with toothpicks in our mouths,
sniffed glue and ether and what somebody
claimed was cocaine" (130).

"Al. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to
get out of the car and retch, I wanted to
go home to my parents' house and crawl
into bed" (137).
Man vs. Man
First Person P.O.V.
"I went for the tire iron I kept under the driver's seat. I kept it there because bad characters always keep tire irons under the driver's seat, for just such an occasion as this" (132).
Coming face-to-face with mortality causes a person to grow up
"On the far side of the lot, like an exoskeleton of some gaunt chrome insect, a chopper leaned against its kickstand. And that was it for excitement: some junkie halfwit biker and a car freak pumping his girlfriend" (131).

"When I reached out, it gave like a rubber duck, it gave like flesh" (134).

"(I was nineteen, a mere child, an infant, and here in the space of five minutes I'd struck down one greasy character and blundered into the waterlogged carcass of a second)" (134).
"By now the birds had begun to take over for the crickets, and dew lay slick on the leaves. There was a smell in the air, raw and sweet at the same time, the smell of the sun firing buds and opening blossoms...Everything was still. This was nature" (136).
"When We wheeled our parents' whining station wagons out onto the street we left a patch of rubber half a block long" (130).

"Then I thought of the dead man. He was probably the only person on the planet worse of than I was...who was he, I wondered, this victim of time and circumstance bobbing sorrowfully at my back. The owner of the chopper, no doubt, a bad older character come to this...My car was wrecked; he was dead" (136).
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