Good People, By David Foster Wallace

1027 words - 4 pages

David Foster Wallace’s “Good People,” is a very touching, powerful story about a young, unwed, Christian couple facing an extremely difficult decision and the moral and religious implications that may result. As the story begins, we are allowed into the head of Lane Dean, a college student, as he sits on a park bench with his girlfriend, Sheri. Lane and Sheri find themselves faced with an unplanned pregnancy, which causes them to battle with several moral and religious dilemmas. Both of them are devout Christians who have built their moral beliefs upon God and their religious upbringing. Although torn Sheri schedules an abortion, which weighs on Lane deeply. Lane, frozen in fear and not having the courage to freely talk to Sheri about the situation, has a conversation with her in his own head which leads him to question love, morals, religion and life. As they face this unwanted pregnancy, Lane, controlled by fear realizes that sometimes in life certain situations are too complicated to solely be answered within the rigidity of religion. People are human and regardless of how strong their faith in religion is, the battle between right and wrong will forever exist. Ultimately, Sheri decides to carry the child, which Lane assumes is a statement of Sheri’s faith in him. Inspired by her leap of faith, Lane decides to break free from the fear, muster up some courage and ultimately makes a leap of faith of his own and decides to give loving her a try. Lane’s epiphany leads to the central idea that sometimes it takes breaking the confines of fear and having faith in love or in another person to win the battle between right and wrong, which Wallace conveys beautifully.
“Good People” is a very compelling short story that is full of detail and beautiful, vivid imagery that transports us to within the story as if we were the ones sitting on the park bench. When Wallace writes “…the air suffused with honeysuckle and lilacs both, which was almost too much” (1) readers can literally almost catch a whiff of the honeysuckle and lilacs in the air. Wallace’s precise and purposeful style of language allows us to get a true feeling for Lane, our protagonist, and the terror, desperation and nervousness he feels in making a horribly difficult decision. “He hated himself for sitting so frozen. He could almost visualize himself tiptoeing past something explosive. A big stupid-looking tiptoe, like in a cartoon. The whole last black week had been this way and it was wrong” (1) portrays the sheer terror and desperation that Lane is feeling. Wallace tells this story from a limited omniscience point of view, only allowing us into Lane’s head. This point of view complements Lane’s character as well as the tone of this story as it helps to set the frightened and worried mood of the story as it permits us, as readers, to experience the inner conflict and desperation that Lane is feeling. The setting, in my opinion, has hints of foreshadowing...

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