The Greasy Lake is a story that dwells upon the details of some young children bad and delinquent in their activities and lifestyle. They presume that the “badness” syndrome is a fashionable trend they keep and develop within them. The plot of the story is interesting and poses a variety of questions quite relevant to the reader response viewpoint of analysis. A journey through the mind of the writer from a psychoanalytic outlook may represent an illusionary destination of choices unique to the reader as the author may wish to reveal. The protagonist may be the dominant factor in this phenomenon where the teenager may have a realistic picture of the lake as opposed to the illusions created through the models. The choice of language and words determining the diction of the author reveal an immense association between the author and the characters’ actions in the story. One such intriguing question relevant to the form and content of the story is “What does Greasy Lake's "bad breath of decay" symbolize about the characters in the story?"
In many ways, the greasy lake bears a pattern to the character traits of the narrator and his allies within the story. As the narrator reveals a variety of nuances through his actions, the reader can create concurrence in the habits of the characters to that of the lake in terms of a change in their habits and traits. As the lake emerges in the earlier chapters of the story, it was clear, bright and held the ambience of purity. The lake, being in a society of irresponsibility and wasted habits, undergoes a drastic change to become “greasy” in nature. Greasy, according to the English dictionary, denotes an element pollution emanating from the variances of oils in a substance. The title is therefore, a factor that elaborates a lake, which has changed over time due to the intrusion of pollutants making it unclear. The dirt within the lake has a variance of sheltered mosses as well as bottles broken and filled along the banks of the lake making it greasy and filthy. To describe the lake, the story creates a combination where the lake is comparable to the air force operation of the post war era in the setting of the author. Such a comparison equates to the 1960 warfare with the disappointed minds of the citizens emanating from the war.
As the greasy progresses, it becomes filthy and holds breath bad with decay and rotten substances. In describing his mistake, he relates the problems of the moment at the greasy lake to the greasy character that appears to hold contrary opinions to them. What determines the author’s choice of greasy character as a comparison to the greasy lake? How does the greasy character emerge as juxtaposition to the greasy lake? Consider the narrator’s description of the “greasy character” from the second mistake. The relationship to Tony Lovett and his roughly bad character emerges to determine a great option of activities lying within the parameters of a bad element. The author’s choice of symbol and character in relation to Tony creates suspense as thick as the “character” greasy in appearance and quite incongruent to the narrator’s cronies appear to fit into the greasy lake. He is a man of action and he fights pretty well with the narrator and his cronies. “Bad” characters existed on a round of free will that the narrator feels compares to their experiences. Unconventionality determined the essence of the moment and the fight as every character derived a real transgression from the elementariness of the characters.
The “bad breath of decay” that the author uses in relation to the characters first emanates from the lake. As the lake is filthy and full of a variety of nuances from every angle, the characters form a great force in their creativity. The grease and filthy within the lake seems to have a created an elementary relation of decay which permeates the environment with stench like bad breath. Bad breath, from a lake appears to create a personified elementary factor where the lake appears to have bad breath just like humans and animals do. The bad breath from such a lake affects the society in an incredible way. Such a fact, according to the author relates creatively to the characters within the environment of the greasy lake. As expected, most of these characters are young and juvenile in nature. Their free lifestyles with no regard to conventional norms and ethics of the society create a group of “bad juveniles” in the society. Their free lifestyles coupled with the paradigms of illicit sex, terror and wasted lives create a societal bad breath the author reveals. In a strong way, these characters have a massive connection to the lake such that their lives revolve around it. The aftermath of a rotten society, also affected the youth who now chose to live meaningless lives. Notice the “bad greasy character” (Boyle, 169).
The story reveals that the society has a greater potential of molding a character’s ethical considerations with a strong orientations to the demands and norms so prevalent. On the other hand, the major part of the society is never influenced by the mass perspective therein. In a critical perspective, the decisions one makes in the face of certain situations that revolve on a character’s life. The author has an elaborate manner of revealing the society that existed in the 1960s as well a manner of striking the next generation perspectives. The after effects of the war are determined by the nature of the political class and the social affluence derived in the horizons unfolded. From the story, the environment, and social setting is quite cold bearing a semblance to the bad breath emanating from decay and lack of conventional life.
The symbol of bad breath of decay also focuses on the manner that characters have deviated from the norms of the society and settled for the antisocial traits. While many people in the life of Boyle have a tendency to enact critical evaluations of realism, the juveniles feel a string sense to be bad due to the choices that they make in the course of their development. As a group of “characters” greasy in every way, they derive pleasure from the meaningless and pleasure-seeking lifestyles of the society by the lake. The narrator agrees to be a “bad character, waiting for things to happen” (Boyle 171) In a way, the bad stench from the lake reflects the bad lifestyle from the juveniles. Their persona reflects the ideals of cooperative affiliations determined by the demands of the society. They make mistakes deliberately; for fun for instance, “the first mistake” (Boyle, 169)
In conclusion, the Greasy Lake, a story by Boyle has a remarking imagery of the lake’s gradual transformation from the clear bright angle to the paradigm of filth and dirt influenced by murk of a society filled with wanton desires and incredible activity index. The narrator agrees to a “time when courtesy and winning went out of style” (Paragraph 44) From the parameters of the social complex, the actors in the story by Boyle, having to be children stand to get a better chunk of intrusions and disturbances due to the activity index unfolding in the complex likeness of society. The youth, at an upcoming age where they have the freedom to choose from any angle of association, decide on a variety of features that are in contradictions to the requirements of the society. In a way, the society is responsible for the decay of the lake due to the lack of care. The irresponsibility has led to acute decay which emits bad breath in the society. As Boyle has juxtaposed, the chief source of the lake’s filth is the social complexes that emits a variety of wastes. The children too, having the connection to the society, have developed a resonating habit of reckless lifestyle evident in their mannerisms and activities. These nuances have led to their “bad breath of decay” which leads to the death of the “bad character” and several other ills. Ideally, the author is creating the strong stench of the society to reveal in depth rotten and wanton behavior in the young characters. As Boyle illustrates through the choice of characters and the juxtaposition of different historical events, the title of a once clear society is now muddled by the social intrusions and the aftermath of the warfare.
Boyle, T. Coraghessan. Greasy Lake & other stories. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1985. Print.