Toward the end of Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow, the title character reflects on his life as a barber in a small Kentucky town: “I am a man who has hoped, in time, that his life, when poured out at the end, would say, ‘Good-good-good-good-good!’ like a gallon jug of the prime local spirit. I am a man of losses, regrets, and griefs. I am an old man full of love. I am a man of faith.”
Jayber comes to this sense of being a man of faith, hope and love only through a long journey of struggle, anger and loneliness. Indeed, his first encounter with a gallon jug of the prime local spirit is anything but good. Jayber is invited to a gathering of men out in the country on Saturday night, and they down quite a bit of prime local spirit. But the effect is to induce destructive quarreling and dissension, not goodness.