Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

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Infinite Jest: Chapter 57 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Wednesday 11 November Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Randy Lenz and Bruce Green are walking together. Lenz has realized that he likes Green, which gives him intense social anxiety. In desperation, Lenz had retrieved around a gram of his emergency stash to cope with the situation, convincing himself that it’s in the interests of his overall sobriety. However, he underestimated the cocaine’s effect and now finds himself manically talking to Green, sharing story after story from his personal life, including one about how he once met a deformed infant who was a refugee from the Great Concavity. At E.T.A., Hal and John Wayne have a brief, silent encounter.
It is not only negative situations that can trigger anxiety and cravings in those who are in recovery. As this passage shows, the simple realization that Lenz likes Green and wants to be friends with him is enough to make him relapse. Of course, this relapse ultimately ends up being a form of self-sabotage, not only harming Lenz but potentially isolating him from Green.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Lenz chews gum in order to hide the fact that he is grinding his teeth together. He keeps talking to Green, telling him stories from his time as a coke dealer. Green comments that he can understand why addicts say that cocaine is the “Express Elevator to AA.” Lenz mentions how he has been scouted as a male model, but didn’t want to enter the industry because of all the closeted gay men. He is testing his theory that Green is a closeted gay man himself. Green repeats Gately’s saying that there’s no problem if AA brainwashes you, because his brain is in need of washing.
Lenz and Green seem to be operating on different wavelengths here. Lenz’s stories about his time as a coke dealer fails to impress Green, who only thinks about the story in relation to their current quest for sobriety. Green also fails to pick up on Lenz’s probing to see if he is gay. Indeed, Green’s mind seems to be entirely focused on AA, whereas Lenz is clearly in a very different position.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon