Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Mid-conversation, Mario asks Hal if he is asleep, and Hal reminds him that he can’t talk if he is sleeping. They discuss the tennis match Hal played that day, in which he eviscerated his opponent. Mario asks Hal if he believes in God, and Hal says that God seems to be “pro-death” while Hal himself is “anti-death.” Mario mentions James’s death. Hal says he will tell Mario a joke as long as he promises to fall asleep after. However, after the joke Mario keeps talking. He reflects that Avril seems happier after James’s death, but Hal disagrees, saying she has become more of a “workaholic.” Mario begins to cry. The chapter ends with a note that the medical attaché is still watching the unmarked entertainment cartridge.
In this scene, we begin to see some ways in which Mario and Hal are opposites. Whereas Hal has struggle communicating and tends to be cut off from his own emotions, Mario wears his heart on his sleeve. Mario is also unafraid of difficult topics, from the existence of God to their father’s suicide. Hal may be the talented tennis player and academic prodigy of the family, but Mario possesses what is perhaps a more fundamental and important talent—the ability to be open with others.