The narrator is characterized as greasy, bad and reckless. For example, when the narrator and his friends arrive at greasy lake they start a fight with a greasy character that is there with his girlfriend. While fighting the greasy character the narrator beats him with a tire iron and almost kills him. Also, after the narrator and his friend knock out the greasy character they attack his girlfriend and almost rape her. In addition, T. C. Boyle uses setting to show how a vile environment can bring out the darkness in people.
Greasy lake is described as being covered in trash, run down, murky, and just plain disgusting. This type of atmosphere can bring out the worst in people. Additionally, later on in the story the narrator walks into the water and runs into something he thought was a log, however it was actually a dead body. Furthermore, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” shows how quickly a person can go from being good to being bad. To begin, the dynamic character Marry Anne Bell is described as a sweet girl in the beginning, but in the end is revealed to have a dark side.
When Mary Anne first arrives in Vietnam she is this sweet innocent teenage girl who wears pink sweaters, short shorts, and makeup, but then she begins to change into someone new. The first real sign that she changed was she stopped wearing make up and her sweaters and begins learning how to assemble guns and operate on the wounded. She also begins to go on missions in the jungle with the greenies. Then when she begins living with the greenies she’s described as crazy and deranged.
Fossie and Rat find Mary in her tent with dead bodies around her room and a necklace of human tongues hanging from her neck. Moreover, the setting of the story shows how a place can help make someone who is good and pure, suddenly become dark and evil. The story takes place in the middle of a war zone in Vietnam. The camp that the soldiers and Mary Anne stay at is shared with the green berets, a special group of soldiers that are very shady characters.
As time goes on Mary begins to blend in with the environment around her, and her eyes change from being blue to being as green as the jungle. In addition, at the end of the story Mary Anne’s tent is described as disgusting because of the smell of smoldering flesh and dead bodies. There is also a dead panther’s head on a stick at her bedside along with tribal music blaring in the background. In conclusion, everyone has darkness hidden within him or her. This is proven true in the two stories “Greasy Lake” by T. C. Boyle and “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” by Tim O’Brien.