What does the lake represent in the story Greasy Lake?

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Greasy Lake represents a force for change. In 1967 when the American attack on Khe Sanh (mentioned in paragraph 7) took place, the author was about nineteen years old. It is possible to guess that’s about the year in which “Greasy Lake” is set. Not only the epigraph but also the title of the story come from that bard of a slightly later era, Bruce Springsteen, whose first album appeared in 1973. Digby and Jeff are not really “bad”. And, neither is the narrator. They’re just engaging in the kind of behavior they think is expected of them (1, 3, 4). When, on the night of the story, their rebellion backfires, throwing them into a grimmer world than they had bargained for, they feel revulsion. As is clear at the end, they have had enough of being “bad.” Like the boy in James Joyce’s “Araby,” they have grown up painfully. That the narrator of “Greasy Lake” grows and changes during his adventures is apparent from the two views of “nature” he voices, one in paragraph 2 and one in paragraph 32. When he tells us (in paragraph 40) that he and Digby looked at the girl “like war veterans,” most readers would take that to be a metaphor: he too feels a sort of battle fatigue.

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