Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

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Infinite Jest: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Selected Transcripts of the Resident-Interface-Drop-in-Hours of Ms. Patricia Montesian, M.A. C.S.A.C., Executive Director, Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (Sic), Enfield MA, 1300-1500H., Wednesday, 4 November — Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. In the first transcript, an Ennet House resident complains about the way another resident drums his fingers on the table. In the next, a resident complains that Patricia hasn’t given a definition of “alcoholic,” while also describing his life in a way that makes it indisputably clear that he has a drinking problem. Another resident describes having to refuse Percocet during a trip to the Emergency Room on account of their sobriety. Another asks for a prayer for those considering suicide, while another complains about something in an upstairs toilet that won’t flush.
This chapter takes the form of an anonymous chorus of voices. The fact that we don’t know the identity of each of the residents highlights the connections and similarities between people’s experience of recovery. This sense of similarity is an important part of the ideology of recovery. People can help each other get through it because they have experienced a similar trajectory themselves.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
In another transcript, a resident fretfully wonders why he is finding it difficult to stop taking cocaine considering that he obviously wants to. Another resident objects to the framing of alcoholism as a “disease,” considering that the prescribed “cure” is prayer. Another complains about the fact that they are being kicked out and asks where they are supposed to go. Another protests being punished for using mouthwash, considering its low alcohol content. Another complains about a fellow residents’ farting, while another expresses concern over their loss of hope.
Some of the residents’ complaints may seem silly (such as the one about farting), but there is also a strong basis for sympathy with their concerns. Detox, recovery, and sustained sobriety are obviously extremely difficult. Like much of the novel (and especially the parts about addiction), this chapter is both comic and deeply emotive.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
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