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David Foster Wallace’s Good People

2020-04-20 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

An Analysis of David Foster Wallace’s Good People




David Foster Wallace is a famous writer in America. He has been enduring many years’ suffering from depression. The characters he has ever depicted are generally educated, a little bit unhappy, and with a disposition of detachment, which may result from the spirit of the times, the social background of the United States, as well as his own experiences. He likes all kinds of exaggerated, grammatical and sometimes burdensome sentences to create a lazy and undisciplined, sneering and student-like style. That is the reason why readers always think it is difficult to understand when reading his stories.

In his story Good People, Wallace has successfully drawn portraits of two young Christians—Lane and his girlfriend Sheri who were greatly disturbed by an unexpected pregnancy. According to the descriptions, there are obvious differences between the boy and the girl. Lane seems to be a delicate, sensitive and introverted young man with a special soft and passive temperament of his age. The world and things around him are fraught with uncertainties and sudden changes that he even has no ability to resist or to face them straight. He cannot be considered a man with faith in pure love or religion. When those once valuable or cherished people or issues set obstacles to his life, he instantly gets bored or irritated and wants to get rid of them desperately. He is definitely fond of the beautiful feelings and affections as is mentioned in the story that “What he believed in was a living God of compassion and love and the possibility of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through whom this love was enacted in human time” and responsibilities and obligations he should have taken over apparently are excluded.  Compared with Lane, Sheri is a “down-to-earth” girl who is more ambitious and competent and she always has a clear idea of what she wants and “she was smarter than him and they both knew it”. To some extent, a prediction can be made that Sheri may take up the dominating positon in the relationship with Lane and more often than not she makes decisions instead of Lane. Despite the differences they have, the two young people also share some similarities. They are quite uncertain with their love affair and it feels like not on a solid ground especially with the pregnancy. Besides, both of them are trapped in religious norms which conflict with the harsh reality they encounter with. So they are gloomy and in a bad mood.

The environment plays a significant role in delineating the mental activities of characters and strengthening the atmosphere. In the second part, the sentence “the angle of the sum made the water of the shallows look dark” shows that although everything looks perfect, such as sunshine warm the grass and flower, people can smell the faint scent, Lane and his girlfriend enjoy their free time, they still have some defects, like shadow on the surface of water may, and the fallen trees after the storms. The shadows may be the troubles and inconvenience pregnancy brings them. And the fallen tree may probably refer to their decision about abortion. Grass which appears in “there is a mower cutting grass someplace off behind them” may allude to their inner feelings for each other. The love or passion for each other at the bottom of their hearts is fading out.

In terms of the relationship between people and environment, it has constituted a very important part of the story. The author spares no effort to present the charm and beauty of the nature. It is mainly because nature provides a wonderful sheltering harbor for those who are suffering from pain and disturbs from earthly life that the environment to some degree can make people relaxed and change their views over the world and help smooth the frozen relations between people. The description that  “it was springtime, and the park’s grass was very green and the air suffused with honeysuckle and lilacs both, which was almost too much. There were bees, and the angle of the sun made the water of the shallows look dark” can easily allow the protagonists to forget or escape from their unsolved problems and obtain console from the embrace of the nature. However, it is cruel that no one can be isolated from the society and the moment he returns to the old environment, there is no way for him to hide again.

“Good people” in the form of a plural word actually can be used to describe a single person, which leaves a hint that good people being together may not lead to a mutual improvement or understanding. The divisions within each one is sometimes so incurable and unavoidable that it could possibly cause a good thing to turn into a bad one. Lane and Sheri may be good people in many aspects as an individual but when they stay together, the irreconcilable innate discrepancies may bring out both of them a regrettable result.

Religion in this story is evidently not something that can save believers from their annoyance but the one that adds burden to the young couple’s life and relation. If it is not the restrictions about abortion in Christianity, Lane and Sheri may not feel so much pressure from the issue. It is indisputable that their faith in religion has even been the origin of their unhappiness and been the shackles they are willing to shake off.

The plot of this story is not so complex. It is about the monologue and reactions of a young Christian couple when the girl is suddenly pregnant. This may be a popular matter in modern society and it is related to norms and challenges people’s opinion of morality and religion. The conflict focuses on their practical decision and the religious restrictions about abortion which may determine the fate of the unborn baby. It ends with a series of monologue questions. Both parties are betting on each other’s dignity and integrity as well as their hope for their dying love. 


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