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“Good People” by David Foster Wallace

Updated August 29, 2022

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“Good People” by David Foster Wallace essay

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David Foster Wallace, an American writer, “Good People” is a short story which is based on two young Christian couple set at the park nearby the lake. The couples, Lane A. Dean and Sheri Fisher, faced with an issue of unplanned pregnancy, which creates a situation of fear, choice between right or wrong and religious faith which is clearly illustrated by the third person point of view. The story starts with the scene of the park by the lake with part of downed tree hidden by the bank. The starting sentence of the story can narrate the overall idea and sentiments.

In “good people”, Foster uses the physical and the internal setting of surrounding, nature of the couples and conflicts between them to explore Lane’s intuitive feeling through third person omniscient. At first, the place in the park where the couples were sitting in the bench and their shadow was headed toward the grass portrays the theme of the story. The whole story is based on Lane’s thought. The scene of the men fishing explores the idea of Jesus watching them, which reflects the Lane’s religious faith.

As written by Foster, “the angle of the sun made the water of the shallows look dark.” Carries a important message regarding the future of those couples. The darkness of water shallows was like the black day they were going to face or sin towards their religion. Moreover, this type of atmosphere can tell the readers that the moment was intense. The sentence, “the downed tree branches seemed to all bend so sharply just under the shallow’s surface.”

Reflects the subjectivity of the perception. Lane thinks that they are beyond the control and pulled towards the darkness which is clearly written in the line, “he pictured in his mind an image of himself on a train, waving mechanically to something that got smaller and smaller as the train pulled away.” The decreasing size of the picture which was a imagination of Lane’s shows the reader that his hope was getting down and many questions were striking in his head.

Secondly, Protagonist is describing their characteristics in every situation throughout the whole story by action, behavior and emotions. The narrator explains the goodness of Lane’s by relating his career towards accounting and his caring nature. Lane always has a thought that he is a good person. This sense of being good is described by the sentence, ” He was desperate to be good people, to still be able to feel he was good.” Also, the narrator describes Sheri as a understanding, matured minted, strong girl through the vision of Lane. The narrator has all those characteristics of the couples from the protagonist’s view.

Furthermore, Lane has a feeling within himself about the unplanned pregnancy about abort or carry, either they should believe that’s a lie or it’s real and love or fake. These are the illusion in Lane mind that has been repeated by the narrator as a central idea. Thirdly, Lane is a subject of concern for conflict which has occurred within himself or his religion. There are external as well as internal conflicts throughout the story.

Also, the conflict can illustrate that Lane is totally in dilemma and cannot think straight towards the solution. Also, their thoughts have made the readers clear about what they think of each other. Both of them were terrible enemies with each other. They were caged in the silence and fighting with thoughts, but without the victory. They were having problems with communicating with each other.

Throughout the story, Lane has worshipped for the love and don’t want to get far from it but he was wrong. He has to worship for courage which will let him to face Sheri. His courage to face her is clearly described by the sentence, “like a muscle he did not have.”(153). Lane knows the truth, but he does not want to accept the fact which is a conflict of man vs. himself.

Finally, Foster has beautifully described the sentiments of two Christian couple who were having issues with the unplanned pregnancy and could not accept the fact and move on. He utilized the various physical and psychological settings for creating a mood, tone , time that reflects the nature of the characters and purpose of the story.

“Good People” by David Foster Wallace essay

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“Good People” by David Foster Wallace. (2019, Jun 23). Retrieved from