Regression to Childhood in "Greasy Lake"

Essay by moon_vixen33University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2006

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"(I was nineteen, a mere child, an infant, and here in the space of five minutes I'd struck down one greasy character and blundered into the waterlogged carcass of another.)" (7)

After mistakenly interrupting the romantic interlude of a greasy man and his girlfriend at Greasy Lake, the evening becomes a succession of negative events for the three boys. Following a fight with the greaser, the boys then turn their attention to his screaming girlfriend, as her man lies unconscious on the ground. The narrator and his two friends are suddenly interrupted during their assault of the greaser's girlfriend by two fraternity boys and must flee the scene of their various crimes. The narrator runs in a blind panic through the woods and unconsciously wades into Greasy Lake. As he thrashes wildly through the murky water, his progress impeded by the feculent growth, the narrator flounders into a corpse.

Shocked, a moment passes before the narrator realizes what he has encountered. Upon doing so, he becomes more panicked: "Understood, and stumbled back in horror and revulsion..."(7) It is at this point that the narrator abandons all pretence of being a 'bad' character by displaying his true emotions and reactions, of fear and disgust, towards the events that have transpired, and the environment in which he finds himself. Throughout the evening at Greasy Lake, the narrator discards his defiant, adolescent persona and regresses significantly in confidence and maturity due to the traumatic events endured, until he consequently reverts to a temporary infantile mentality, until finally regaining some composure in order to escape Greasy Lake.

"Greasy Lake" begins with the narrator describing the qualities which were prevalent among boys during his adolescence. "There was a time when courtesy and winning ways went out of style, when it was good to be...