Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

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Infinite Jest: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
3 November Y.D.A.U.Orin calls Hal and asks why Hal always sounds so out of breath when he answers the phone. Orin jokingly implies that it is because Hal has been masturbating, when in fact it is because he has been secretly getting high. Orin talks about the desperate heat of Arizona, asking Hal to describe snow for him and admitting that he is “heat-crazed.” Orin explains that he met someone special, and then asks Hal about the Canadian separatist movement.
Hal may be the younger brother, but he seems to be more intelligent than Orin, something Orin recognizes by asking Hal about Canadian separatism. Orin also doesn’t know Hal as well as he thinks he does, which is shown by his joke about Hal masturbating.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House was founded by a weathered addict who had come to believe that “total self-surrender” was the only way to successful recovery. The founder was so committed to Alcoholics Anonymous that he refused to tell others his name. In the period just after he opened Ennet House, the founder would make new residents eat rocks to test their commitment to sobriety. (This practice was eventually overruled by government authorities.) The founder died of a brain hemorrhage in the Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install Upgrade for Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems for Home, Office, or Mobile, at the age of 68.
The Ennet House founder’s comically extreme belief in self-surrender points to some of the most important questions in the book, including: under what circumstances is self-surrender necessary? When does submitting to an institution or ideology go too far? And does such submission necessarily entail sacrificing one’s own sense of agency? The founder’s rock-eating practice may be ridiculous, but the questions it raises are difficult and serious.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon