Explain the differences between the two female encounters by the boys in the story "Greasy Lake" by T. Coraghessan Boyle. 

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three boys are searching for mischief during the first few days of summer vacation.This begins the story “Greasy Lake” by T. Coraghessan Boyle. Too much drinking, too much marijuana, too little to do—the young men bored by nothing exciting decide to go out to Greasy Lake.

The setting is Greasy Lake near the boys’ hometown. It is summer and warm.  The narration is first person point of view with the main character as the narrator.  The story unfolds in the past tense.  The narrator looks back at the incident and retells it in a mocking, bitter tone.

What incidences lead to the first encounter with a female?

  • They plan to prank a friend who they think is making out in his car at Greasy Lake.
  • It is not their friend, but a local “bad guy.”
  • The “bad guy” attacks the boys, particularly the narrator.
  • The narrator hits the attacker with a tire iron on the head.  
  • As if he is in a bad dream, the narrator thinks that he has killed the man.

First female encounter

When the “bad guy’s” girlfriend comes out of the car wearing a man’s shirt and panties and barefooted, the boys become like crazed animals and attack the woman.

We were on her like deranged brothers—see no evil, hear none, speak none—panting, wheezing, tearing at her clothes, grabbing for flesh.  We were bad characters, and we were scared and hot—anything could happen.

The boys become animalistic with the intention of raping the woman. Just as they were shredding her panties, another car comes into the parking lot. They boys scatter into Greasy Lake. 

After the narrator hears the voice of the guy that he thought he had killed, he is greatly relieved that he did not kill him. Later, he also hears his car being destroyed.  While in the water, the narrator makes a grisly discovery of a dead body.  There was a lot of yelling and rock throwing into the lake; finally, he hears the  cars leaving.

When the sun begins to rise, the boys gather and go to the car.  The only thing left untouched are the tires.  After finding the keys, they are ready to head home and forget the last night.

Second female encounter

There is a chopper sitting on the parking lot.  Two women drive up in a Mustang.  They have been smoking or drinking.  The women are looking for the guy [Al] who owns the motorcycle—probably the dead guy.  One of the women offers to party with the boys.  The narrator quickly answers “No thanks.” The narrator speeds away toward home.

The difference in the two encounters comes from the frame of reference of the boys.  In the first female encounter, they had just been attacked and involved in what they thought was a murder.  Their attitudes were "What do we have to lose?” In the second female event, the boys have survived a night of horror and realize what they have to lose—everything.