Sudden and Ironic events that happen to the narrator in T. C. Boyle's short story "Greasy Lake" are the same type of events that in an instant will change a person forever. The ironic circumstances that the narrator in "Greasy Lake" finds himself in are the same circumstances that young people find themselves in when fighting war. The viewpoint of the world that the narrator has, completely alters as certain events take place throughout the story.
His outlook on nature transforms into a wholly different standpoint as the story progresses. As his tale begins, the narrator sees himself as a tough guy or "bad character." He believes he is invincible. There is nobody as cool as he is or as dangerous as him and his friends are. With his followers, the narrator goes to Greasy Lake, he takes in the nature that surrounds him. He thinks of himself to be a kid who knows everything. To him, the lake represents a night of misbehavior and partying.
The unhealthy, treacherous atmosphere of Greasy Lake is alluring, fun, and exciting to someone as threatening as he is. "We went up to the lake because everyone went there, because we wanted to snuff the rich sent of possibility on the breeze, watch a girl take off her clothes and plunge into the festering murk, drink beer, smoke pot, howl at the stars, savor the incongruous full-throated roar of rock and roll against the primeval susurrus of frogs and crickets. This was nature." This quote gives a clear idea of what the narrators perception of what not only nature is, but of what the world is. He lives to have fun. He is fearless and lives for the moment. All that life is to him is sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
His observations of surrounding nature changes after a few ironic incidents occur. The role he plays reverses itself and he finds that he is merely a scared child who is lost and alone in a big scary world. While at Greasy Lake, he is involved in a terrible fight where he almost kills another person, and attempts the heinous crime of rape onto an innocent girl. As he begins to gang rape an innocent victim he is forced to run for his own safety when more people show up at the scene. Ironically, within minutes he converts from being the bad guy, forcing himself on an unwilling victim, to becoming a scared kid hiding in the woods from attackers. While hiding in the dark, polluted waters of Greasy Lake he encounters the flesh of a dead body floating in the murkiness along side him.
He is forced to conceal himself in the dark waters next to a dead body while witnessing others vandalize and destroy his car from a distance. "There was a smell in the air, raw and sweet at the same time, the smell of the sun firing buds and opening blossoms. I contemplated the car. It lay there like a wreck along the highway, like a steel sculpture left over from a vanished civilization.
Everything was still. This was nature." These words are how he observes the nature surrounding him after the events take place. Where only a short time ago everything about Greasy Lake was full of life and promise it is now dead and still. He no longer sees nature the same way, or looks at the world as he once did. He beholds the world in a different manner, he will never view life in the way he used to.
Everything has changed for him. The actions of the characters in the allegory "Greasy lake" are actually the actions of war. The story takes place at the same time the Vietnam War was happening. Though war is not once mentioned, it is a story explaining war. The desperate, outrageous actions that take place at Greasy Lake allegorically spell out actions of war. If untangled, the words written about what the characters experience at Greasy lake can be interpreted as reasons why war is sparked.
The kids in the story are 19 years old, it takes place the summer after their first year of college. College is the reason kids of that age are at Greasy lake and not fighting in war. The outlook the narrator has on life before his experience at Greasy lake is the same attitude kids going into war had. His perception of the world after what happens at Greasy lake is the same perception men who have fought in battle and seen death have. Nothing about life is the same for the narrator after all that happens to him at Greasy lake.
Nothing in life is ever the same for the young kids who fought and got caught up in the stupidity of war during Vietnam. Much of the story relates to the Vietnam war. "We were nineteen. We were bad. We read Andre Gide and struck elaborate poses to show that we didn't give a shit about anything. At night we went up to Greasy Lake." The attitude the speaker of these words has is the same attitude the cocky, nineteen year old kids had as they went off to fight war.
"I wanted to get out of the car and retch, I wanted to go home to my parents house and crawl into bed." The honesty and fear spoken with these words symbolize the change of attitude the young Vietnam soldiers had after experiencing the horrors of war. The characters in Greasy Lake learn that they are not tough "bad characters" but scared children who are alone and lost in the world, the kids who fought battle in Vietnam went to war thinking they knew all of the answers and somewhere in the middle of it all they realized that they are scared kids who don't understand what is going on the world around them. They wish only to be in the safety of their mothers home. Everything in the story symbolizes and relates to the truth in war, attitude and actions that cause war are the same that take place with the characters in Greasy lake. The changes that the narrator goes through at Greasy lake are similar changes that happened in young kids who fought in the Vietnam War. The sequence of events that take place at Greasy Lake cause the narrator to grow up and see reality for the first time in his life.
The young nineteen year olds who fought in Vietnam went through the same metamorphose as the narrator in Greasy Lake did, War is started by plain stupidity and you figure it out when it's too late and there is nothing that can be done to change your actions. The characters in Greasy lake are allegorically young men who fought war, their actions and feelings grasp and relate to the actions and feelings of war.