Violence in "Greasy Lake" and "The Things They Carried" Essay

999 Words Mar 14th, 2007 4 Pages
Both Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" and T. Coraghessan Boyle's "Greasy Lake" display characters' similar reactions to violence, but in different settings and circumstances. In "The Things They Carried," Fist Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is a soldier in the Vietnam War who finds solace and escape in fantasies of a young woman from home. One of Cross's soldiers dies due to his daydreaming and forces him to abandon these fantasies. In "Greasy Lake," the main character finds enjoyment in picking fights and breaking the law. A late night tussle leads to encounter with a dead body, causing the main character to reflect upon his wild lifestyle. Both stories show a coming to maturity through violence, though in different forms. In "The …show more content…
Lieutenant Cross burns all his physical memories of Martha and vows to uphold his promise to protect his soldiers: "he would impose strict field discipline… they would get their shit together, and keep it together" (O'Brien 636). The same violence that drove Lieutenant Cross in daydreams essentially matures him into a real soldier and a grown man. During the violent ordeal at Greasy Lake, the main character is force to rethink his actions and behavior. While escaping the scene of the beaten stranger and half-naked woman, the main character encounters a dead body floating next to him in the lake. As he listens to the stranger demolish his mother's car and curse him, the main character fully realizes the consequences of his actions: "My jaws ached, my knees throbbed… I scrapped the recesses of my brain for some sort of excuse to give my parents… then I thought of the dead man… My car was wrecked; he was dead" (Boyle 135). A sort of remorse and thankfulness comes through in the main character's words. The violence that the main character so passionately searched for leads him to reevaluate the "bad" (Boyle 130) persona that he has been portraying. In "The Things They Carried" and "Greasy Lake," both of the characters experience an epiphany through violence. Lieutenant Cross's epiphany is more profound, but the consequences of his

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