Greasy Lake Questions and Answers
by T. Coraghessan Boyle

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What is the irony in "Greasy Lake"?

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The central irony of the story has to do with the three boys as "dangerous" characters. In a sense, the irony comes from how the boys are self-consciously aware of how they are pretending to be tough. But in another sense, the irony lies in the surprise they feel at the violence they commit. In fact, when the narrator takes a tire iron to the man in the blue car, the boys' pretend toughness turns into actual attempted murder. One way to read the story is as an account how how quickly a pose can lead into the real thing, or how pretending to be one way can mask other, more primal fears. The attempted gang rape of the girl is an extension of this idea: the boys, surprised by their lust for real violence, naturally turn on the girl in an act of true savagery.

A second kind of irony concerns the way the story is told, and the narrative distance the narrator creates between himself and the events he relates. The self-deprecating, sarcastic tone of the narration belies the actual seriousness of...

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