In "Greasy Lake," how does the boys' encounter with the girls at the end of the story differ from their earlier encounter with Bobby's girl? 

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning of the story, the boys think, act, and behave as young toughs, feeling proud and secure in their sense of invincibility. They see themselves as "bad characters," not to be "messed with." When they find themselves in the unexpected and violent encounter with Bobby and his girlfriend, they react as the dangerous hoodlums they believe themselves to be. In getting carried away in the moment, they attempt to rape Bobby's girlfriend after Bobby has been brought down with a severe blow from a tire iron. The girl is saved by others who come upon the scene and chase the narrator and his friends into the swamp. At this point, the boys' night of adventure turns into a nightmare, including finding a dead body floating in Greasy Lake.

The next morning, after surviving the previous night of fear and horror, the boys meet the two girls who show definite interest in them. One of the girls offers the boys drugs. At this point, the three "tough guys" have had enough adventure. When the narrator says, "I thought I was going to cry," he is expressing all the emotional turmoil he has experienced in the last few hours. He also cannot escape the irony of the girls thinking he and his friends were "bad characters." At this point, they do not feel quite so tough.