In "Greasy Lake," what is it about Digby and Jeff that inspires the narrator to call them bad?

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copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the second page of Boyle's "Greasy Lake," the narrator provides us the following description of Digby and Jeff:

Digby wore a gold star in his right ear and allowed his father to pay his tuition at Cornell; Jeff was thinking of quitting school to become a painter/musician/head-shop proprietor. They were both expert in the social graces, quick with a sneer, able to manage a Ford with lousy shocks over a rutted and gutted black-top road at eighty-five while rolling a joint as compact as a Tootsie Roll Pop stick. They could lounge against a bank of booming speakers and trade "man"s with the best of them or roll out across the dance floor as if their joints worked on bearings. They were slick and quick and they wore their mirror shades at breakfast and dinner, in the shower, in closets and caves. In short, they were bad.

Most of the descriptions here reference Digby's and Jeff's appearance rather than their behavior. Like the narrator, Digby and Jeff are for more interested in looking bad than really being bad; they want to be cool.

The first description of Digby reveals the reality of the situation. He wears the gold star in his ear, just as a "dangerous character" might; however, Digby's father is paying his college tuition, something to which no "dangerous character" would ever aspire.

Like most teenagers, the narrator, Digby, and Jeff want to be cool. Their desire to be "bad" is more of an ideal and a dream than it is a reality. This, of course, all changes with the encounter with Bobby and the chaos that ensues.

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Greasy Lake

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