Good People is a short story by By David Foster Wallace about a difficult decision that a young christan couple is trying to make. This short story focuses on religion, culture and the challenges that come along with making decisions while being someone who practices a certain religion. The story’s omniscient narrator focuses on the thoughts of Lane Dean and his perception of his relationship with his girlfriend.
The story is shown through the perspective of a young man who along the way examines many different things like love, family, coming of age, family values and christanity as a whole. The story starts off by letting the reader know that both individuals met at the same college and both participated in the same campus ministry group. This is the first hint that we receive about the work having a religious context attached to it. The story of these two individuals continues to takes place by a beautiful lake where they sit on a picnic table with there feet resting on the bench attached. The dialogue between the couple seems stiff and difficult. A little later on in the story we still have not found out why they have the postures that they have and why the girl has her head in her hands. The next time we hear about religion is when he shares that he is struggling to decide whether he should pray to jesus christ during this difficult time. Soon after this is said the picture starts to become more clear. He says to his girlfriend that that hed go with her and be there with her. This saying gives the reader the information now to assume that his girlfriend is pregnant. This news 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. On top of this relation we are also able to pece together that they are talking about the option of having an abortion. Since this young couple is in fact talking about the possibility of abortion, the topic touches on many sensitive matters and is important regardless of ones religion. This new information makes us ask a lot of questions and makes us more invested in the outcome of their decisions and story together. Ultimately Lane who is controlled by fear loses sight of how he once used to think and realizes that sometimes certain situations in life are too complicated to be answered within the rigidity of religion. He tells himself that people are human and that regardless of how strong their faith in religion is, the battle between right and wrong will forever exist. He doesn’t have the courage to tell his girlfriend his new feelings and to freely talk to Sheri about the situation that they face he has a conversation with her in his own head which leads him to question love, morals, religion and life all together. His girlfriend on the other hand decides to carry the child. When we add religion to the mix the pressure again becomes even more intense. Religion comes into play when he starts having ethical concerns. We can see that both characters know that pregnancy is a reason to start a family and is a decision that is a very serious one and should not be taken lightly or taken by accident. After pondering more Lane feels his girlfriend has made the choice to keep the child because of her faith in jesus and in him. Inspired by her decision to face this new addition he decides to break free from the fear he feels and starts to build up some courage and make a leap of faith of his own and to stick by her and give it a try.
The reader can not forget while reading this story that the concept of independence and coming of age is definitely a substantial part in Lanes life and future. He is nineteen, and even though he does not feel ready to start a family yet he looks at the situation through a religious perspective. Instead of admitting that he is scared to make a decision on such adult matters, Lane is looking for other, religiously acceptable excuses. His religious upbringing, leaves him with not being able to use his lack of maturity, making excuses and not taking personal responsibility for ones actions and through all of this we can see several stages of coming of age.
First he is overwhelmed by the news and is trying to find the right decision. His first action is to make this decision based on what church and society have taught him, But then he comes into conflict with his personal reasons and aspirations. He experiences many different reactions such as denial, which, in turn, leads to escapism and then Later he realizes that this problem will not just miraculously go away. He becomes more of a man when realizing that it takes courage to admit that hes lost. Even though Lanes decision-making process is not finished, we come to a point where he re-evaluate his ideas about ethics and morals.
This short story pays a lot of attention to culture, love, and religion, however the main issue, underlined is coming of age. Through the culture of religion, Wallace shows how important it is to make ones own decisions, no matter how difficult they may be.
The story is told through a limited omniscient point of view. We know this because the narrator knows all of the feelings and thoughts of all of the characters in the story. It is limited because the narrator only relates his own thoughts, feelings, and knowledge of the situation.