Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. On November 3, Hal and other E.T.A. students are discussing an exam in the locker room. They then quiz each other on material from a class they have tomorrow with Disney Leith, who teaches History of Entertainment I and II. Charles instituted a “Big Buddy System” at E.T.A. whereby upperclassmen are assigned to look out for a group of students who are 14 and under. Hal quite likes being a Big Buddy and sometimes sits with his Little Buddies at dinner. Hal has Italian, Native American, and Canadian heritage and is the only living Incandenza who looks “ethnic.”
The History of Entertainment instructor’s name is a humorous nod to the Walt Disney Company. (In a surreal twist of fate, the professorship David Foster Wallace was given at Pomona College in 2002—six years after Infinite Jest was published—was endowed and named after Roy E. Disney, a Disney executive who was Walt Disney’s nephew.)
Hal and the other E.T.A. students complain about how tired they are. They have class and training seven days a week, and dream of having time off to relax. One kid calls Schtitt a Nazi, and another student—who is known for sucking up to Schtitt—objects. Back in Tucson, Steeply talks to Marathe about someone called Rod Tine’s love for Luria. Marathe comments that it is better to commit yourself to loving your nation than to loving a woman. He hums the American national anthem.
As becomes ever clearer over the course of the novel, Marathe and the other A.F.R. members are some of the only characters who have a clear sense of purpose in life outside of the pursuit of substances, entertainment, fame, or sex. Yet it’s also an open question if loving one’s country is any more noble than these pursuits, or just another kind of addiction.