Greasy Lake

by

T. Coraghessan Boyle

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One of the narrator’s two best friends, Jeff’s primary characteristic is his inaction. He is lazy, uncertain, and is “thinking of quitting school to become a painter/musician/head-shop proprietor.” At nineteen, Jeff has big ideas, but is unwilling to act on them, content to laze about with his friends and waste his time up at Greasy Lake. Both Digby and Jeff, the narrator says, are “slick and quick [and] bad,” though his criteria for “badness” is little more than someone who “wears mirror shades at breakfast and dinner, in the shower, in closets and caves.”

Jeff Quotes in Greasy Lake

The Greasy Lake quotes below are all either spoken by Jeff or refer to Jeff. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Danger Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Greasy Lake published in 1986.
Greasy Lake Quotes

There was a time when courtesy and winning ways went out of style, when it was good to be bad, when you cultivated decadence like a taste. We were all dangerous characters then. We wore torn-up leather jackets, slouched around with toothpicks in our mouths, sniffed glue and ether and what somebody claimed was cocaine. We were nineteen. We were bad. We struck elaborate poses to show that we didn’t give a shit about anything. At night, we went up to Greasy Lake.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Digby, Jeff
Related Symbols: Greasy Lake
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

It was early June, the third night of summer vacation. The first two nights we’d been out [driving around] till dawn, looking for something we never found.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Digby, Jeff
Related Symbols: Greasy Lake, Cars
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

There was no reasoning with this bad greasy character—clearly he was a man of action.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Digby, Jeff, The “Bad Character” (Bobbie)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

A single second, big as a zeppelin, floated by. We were standing over him in a circle, gritting our teeth, jerking our necks. No one said anything. Already [I was] envisioning the headlines, the pitted faces of the police inquisitors, the gleam of handcuffs, clank of bars, the big black shadows rising from the back of the cell.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Digby, Jeff, The “Bad Character” (Bobbie)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

We were bad characters, and we were scared and hot and three steps over the line—anything could have happened.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Digby, Jeff, “The Fox”
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

“Hey, you guys look like some pretty bad characters—been fightin’, huh?”

Related Characters: Older Girl (speaker), The Narrator, Digby, Jeff
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Greasy Lake LitChart as a printable PDF.
Greasy Lake PDF

Jeff Character Timeline in Greasy Lake

The timeline below shows where the character Jeff appears in Greasy Lake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Greasy Lake
Danger Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
Memory, Reminiscence, and the Pull of the Past Theme Icon
...wears a “gold star” earring and “allow[s] his father to pay his tuition at Cornell”—and Jeff, who is “thinking of quitting school to become a painter/musician/head-shop owner.” Both of the narrator’s... (full context)
Danger Theme Icon
Nature vs. Development Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
Memory, Reminiscence, and the Pull of the Past Theme Icon
The narrator, in his mother’s Bel Air, drives Digby and Jeff out to Greasy Lake. It is the third night of summer vacation, and the boys... (full context)
Danger Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
...in martial arts for phys-ed credit.” The Bad Character, “unimpressed,” flattens Digby with one blow. Jeff then leaps onto the Bad Character’s back, savagely biting his ear. The narrator reaches into... (full context)
Danger Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
...a “balloon [up against] a man with a straight pin, collapse[s.]” The narrator, Digby, and Jeff stand silently over the Bad Character’s unconscious body. The narrator can “already envision the headlines,... (full context)
Danger Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
Memory, Reminiscence, and the Pull of the Past Theme Icon
...was the toenails that did it,” the narrator says, before describing how he, Digby, and Jeff leapt upon her, “deranged, panting, tearing at her clothes, grabbing for flesh. We were bad... (full context)
Danger Theme Icon
Nature vs. Development Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
Memory, Reminiscence, and the Pull of the Past Theme Icon
...that, due to the missing keys, they have no way of starting it. Digby and Jeff bolt, and the narrator runs across the dirt lot to the lake’s edge. He can... (full context)
Danger Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
...returns to his mother’s car. He takes stock of the extensive damage, and Digby and Jeff “emerge from [their hiding place in] the trees.” Both boys are beaten badly, and their... (full context)
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
A “silver Mustang with flame decals” pulls into the lot. Digby and Jeff get into their car and close the doors. The Mustang parks next to the motorcycle,... (full context)