Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest


David Foster Wallace

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Infinite Jest: Chapter 72 Summary & Analysis

19 November Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Marathe and the other A.F.R. members cannot track down Joelle. They decide it won’t be possible to commit a “direct assault” on E.T.A., and thus plan to “intercept” a team of young tennis players traveling to WhataBurger from Quebec and replace them with members of the A.F.R. (those whose legs still function). In the hospital, Gately has a sensual dream about Joelle. He thinks about an elderly woman who lived in his neighborhood as a child called Mrs. Waite, who the other children feared because she resembled a witch. In the end she committed suicide by hanging herself.
At this point it feels as if the winding, non-chronological narrative may be reaching some kind of climactic conclusion centered around the WhataBurger tournament. While it is still not totally clear how the A.F.R. think that intercepting the Quebecois junior tennis team will allow them to secure the master copy of the Entertainment, we can imagine the carnage that will ensue through this plan.
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Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
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Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Shortly before this, Mrs. Waite had saved up her money to buy Gately a birthday cake, which no one ate and which Gately’s mom threw in the trash. Gately knows that Mrs. Waite could never have known it was not eaten, and yet it is still unbearably sad that this incident happened so soon before her suicide. The dream about Joelle takes place in Mrs. Waite’s kitchen, and Mrs. Waite and Joelle are somehow one figure who is also at the same time “Death incarnate.” This figure explains that Death is female and thus maternal, and that mothers are “so obsessively loving” because they are trying to “make amends” for their role in death. 
Perhaps through his visitation from James in wraith form, Gately appears to “see” some version of the Entertainment in his dream. In this way, we gain details about what happens in the film without access to any of the people who have actually seen (and thus been killed by) it. Like the novel itself, the film seems to be fixated with the vilification of mothers as the root cause of both life itself and also chaos and suffering.
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