Short Story Good People By David Foster Wallace: Critical Analysis Essay

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“Good People” by David Foster Wallace is a short story based on a Christian couple challenged to make a tough decision. Christianity and their morals will have a huge impact based on the decision the couple is trying to make.

It is easy to say religion is a big theme in this story because the main characters, Lane and his girlfriend are both Christians and even met at a church event. “They’d gone to different high schools but the same junior college, where they had met in campus ministries.” They find out they are pregnant, which would leave them with very tough decisions to make because as a Christian, premarital sex is avoided. But the young couple also talks about abortion which is also a big thing most Christians are against. But while they are faced with this tough decision, love is also a big part of this story. Christianity pushes on people about loving your neighbors because we all make mistakes. Lane tells his girlfriend that he loves her; just not in the romantic way. This could be true or he could also be in denial about getting his girlfriend pregnant and not wanting to take responsibility in his own actions. He says in the story, “He could have almost visualized himself tiptoeing past something explosive.” He was thinking about ignoring the problem and hoping it would go away on its own. “He was looking over past her at the tree in the water. But he could not say he did: it was not true.”

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Lane is only nineteen, and obviously he is not ready to be a father and have a family, but based on the morals of being a Christian it can seem that he really doesn’t have any other choice. Decisions like this this should take a lot of thought and shouldn’t have all the religious pressure on him to do the right thing. He prayed to God and the story even mention, “He promised God he had learned his lesson.” Their is a lot of pressure on Lane because of their religion and not wanting to make the bad or wrong decision.

Lane being only nineteen in age, we see he comes through with many thoughts of what he should do. He first is completely shocked and tries to find the right decision based on his religion and what the church says he should do. He told his girlfriend that he would be there for her. “One thing Lane Dean did was reassure her again that he’d go with her and be there for her. It was one of the few safe things he could really say.” Then he thinks about all his personal reasons. He thinks about avoiding his religion morals, and ends up coming in denial of the pregnancy of his girlfriend and not wanting to take responsibility. He still doesn’t know what he wants to do because of all the things he is putting into conclusion about this situation.

This story has multiple symbols for example what I talked about before, love, religion, and lane not being ready for a family because he was only nineteen years old. I think when Wallace was writing this short story, I think he was trying to get a point across. I think that point was that no matter what situation that you are put through, it’s important to make your own decision, even when you have religion and values that put you to the test. “He was not a hypocrite, just broken and split like all men.” All humans have struggles and make mistakes, it’s the way you handle the situation.


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