Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest


David Foster Wallace

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Hal Incandenza

Hal Incandenza is the closest the book comes to having a protagonist. The youngest son of the Incandenza family, he is close to both of his older brothers, Orin and Mario. A tennis prodigy… read analysis of Hal Incandenza

Don Gately

Along with Hal, Gately is perhaps the other main character of the story. He is a large but gentle and sensitive person. The son of an alcoholic, Gately starts drinking his mother’s alcohol in… read analysis of Don Gately

Dr. James Incandenza / Jim

James is Avril’s husband, the father (or presumed father, in the case of Mario) of Orin, Mario, and Hal, and the Founding Director of E.T.A. As a child, he was a… read analysis of Dr. James Incandenza / Jim

Orin Incandenza

Orin is the eldest of the Incandenza children. He was in the first class of students at E.T.A., and originally gained a tennis scholarship to B.U. However, after falling in love with a sophomore… read analysis of Orin Incandenza

Avril Incandenza

Avril is the mother of Orin, Mario, and Hal, and the wife of James. She is from Québec, and while she was in graduate school was involved with leftist separatists, which… read analysis of Avril Incandenza
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Mario Incandenza

Mario is the middle child of the Incandenza family and the only Incandenza son (and E.T.A. student) who does not play a sport. He is possibly actually the son of Charles, whom Mario believes… read analysis of Mario Incandenza

Joelle Van Dyne / Madame Psychosis / Lucille Duquette

According to her friend Molly Notkin, Joelle was born as Lucille Duquette in Kentucky. Extremely, even terrifyingly beautiful, Orin’s nickname for Joelle is P.G.O.A.T. (Prettiest Girl Of All Time). Joelle was close with… read analysis of Joelle Van Dyne / Madame Psychosis / Lucille Duquette

Hugh / Helen Steeply

Hugh Steeply is an O.U.S. operative who is undercover as a journalist called Helen throughout the novel. Steeply is loyal to his country and believes deeply in the American principle of freedom of choice. However… read analysis of Hugh / Helen Steeply

Rémy Marathe

Marathe is an A.F.R. member who is a triple and perhaps quadruple agent—he pretends to betray A.F.R. to the O.U.S. via Hugh Steeply, but it is perpetually ambiguous whether or not he is only… read analysis of Rémy Marathe

Michael Pemulis

Michael Pemulis is a popular, confident E.T.A. student and friend of Hal. He attends E.T.A. on the James O. Incandenza Geometrical Optics scholarship, and is not as skilled at tennis as Hal and some… read analysis of Michael Pemulis

Ortho Stice

Ortho Stice is a student at E.T.A., nicknamed “the Darkness.” At one point he gets his forehead stuck to a window and loses a large chunk of skin when he is ripped away. Stice… read analysis of Ortho Stice

Medical Attaché

The medical attaché works for the personal physician of Prince Q——, the Saudi Minister for Home Entertainment. He lives in Boston with his wife. A Sufi Muslim, the attaché does not drink or… read analysis of Medical Attaché

Bruce Green

Bruce Green is first introduced when he is in 8th grade and falls in love with Mildred Bonk. They move in together and Green gets her name tattooed onto his body. He develops substance… read analysis of Bruce Green


Lyle is a mysterious “guru” who sits on top of the towel dispenser in the weight room of E.T.A. In addition to a Hindu guru, he resembles a Christian ascetic. He doesn’t eat or drink… read analysis of Lyle

John Wayne

John Wayne is a Quebecois E.T.A. student who is the best player at the school. He lost his Canadian citizenship through enrolling at the school. Wayne has a sexual relationship with Avril. Wayne’s father… read analysis of John Wayne

Randy Lenz

Randy is a cocaine addict and former dealer who ends up as a resident of Ennet House. He violates the house’s strict no-Substance policy and continues doing small amounts of cocaine. At the same… read analysis of Randy Lenz

President Johnny Gentle

Gentle is a former lounge singer who successfully ran for President of the United States. Under his regime O.N.A.N. is formed and the Great Concavity is given to Canada; however, Gentle himself is shown to… read analysis of President Johnny Gentle
Minor Characters
Charles Tavis
Charles is Avril’s stepbrother; following James’s death, he took over as Headmaster of E.T.A. He is described as small, self-effacing, and a talented bureaucrat. He and Avril have a sexual relationship, and he is possibly Mario’s father.
Dean of Admissions
The Dean of Admissions at the University of Arizona, who interviews Hal.
Dean of Academic Affairs
The Dean of Admissions at the University of Arizona, who also interviews Hal.
Dean of Athletic Affairs
The Dean of Athletic Affairs at the University of Arizona, who also interviews Hal.
Director of Composition
The Director of Composition at the University of Arizona, who also interviews Hal.
Varsity Tennis Coach
The Varsity Tennis Coach at the University of Arizona, who also interviews Hal.
Aubrey deLint
Aubrey deLint is a prorector at E.T.A. (Prorector is a European term, also used at E.T.A., for a member of staff at an academic institution.)
A student at E.T.A.
Ken Erdedy
Ken Erdedy is a marijuana addict struggling to quit, and the narrator of the novel’s second chapter. He ends up as a resident of Ennet House.
Medical Attaché’s Wife
The medical attaché’s wife also falls victim to the Entertainment after coming home from a tennis match and finding her husband watching it.
Prince Q——
Prince Q—— is the Saudi Minister for Home Entertainment, stationed in Boston. He only eats Toblerone chocolate bars, which leaves him with intense sinus problems that require the constant attention of his personal physician and medical attaché.
Clenette is a young woman—presumably a teenager—who narrates a chapter about her friend Wardine, who is being abused by her mother and mother’s boyfriend. At the end of the chapter Clenette reveals she is pregnant.
Wardine is a young girl or woman who is beaten by her mother and molested by her mother’s boyfriend, Roy Tony.
Roy Tony
Roy Tony is a heroin dealer who molests his girlfriend’s daughter Wardine. At the end of the novel he attends the same NA meeting as Erdedy.
Reginald is a friend of Clenette and Wardine who wants to help protect Wardine.
Mildred Bonk
Mildred Bonk is a beautiful girl with whom Bruce Green falls deeply in love. The two move in together, along with their drug dealer Tommy Doocey.
Tommy Doocey
Tommy Doocey is a drug dealer who lives with Bruce and Mildred.
Guillaume DuPlessis
Guillaume DuPlessis is a Quebecois separatist and A.F.R. member living in Boston. (There is a strong hint that he is connected to Orin, presumably via Avril.) He is accidentally killed by Gately during a botched robbery of his home.
James O. Incandenza, Sr.
James, Sr. is James’s father. A former tennis prodigy, he then became an actor and briefly performed the role of “The Man from Glad.” Like his son, he was an alcoholic.
A humorless psychiatric doctor who treats Kate Gompert after her suicide attempt.
Kate Gompert
Kate Gompert is a severely depressed marijuana addict who ends up at Ennet House after multiple suicide attempts.
Gerhardt Schtitt
Gerhardt Schtitt is the German tennis coach at E.T.A. He is rumored to have used corporal punishment in the past, although he is not overly harsh with the students during the time the novel is set.
Tiny Ewell
Tiny Ewell is a well-educated alcoholic who checks into Ennet House.
Gertraude is Rémy Marathe’s wife. Thanks to exposure to the toxicity of the Great Concavity, she was born without a skull and spends the entirety of the novel in a coma.
M. Fortier
Fortier is the leader of the A.F.R.
Luria P——
Luria P—— is a Quebecoise woman who poses as a Swiss hand model in order to seduce, kidnap, and torture Orin. Rodney Tine is in love with her, despite the fact that she works for or alongside the A.F.R.
Disney Leith
Disney Leith is a professor of Entertainment Studies at E.T.A.
Rodney Tine, Sr.
Rodney Tine is the Chief of O.U.S. He is the “architect” of O.N.A.N. and appears to be the mastermind behind President Johnny Gentle’s regime, controlling the rather hapless Gentle.
Kent Blott
Kent is a student at E.T.A.
LaMont Chu
LaMont is a student at E.T.A. He develops a suffocating obsession with tennis fame and goes to Lyle for advice. He ends up concluding that he is “trapped” and will be miserable regardless of whether he achieves fame or not.
Millicent Kent
Millicent is a student at E.T.A. She is #1 on the girls’ 16-A team, but dreams of devoting herself to contemporary dance instead of tennis, even though she is not a talented dancer. She has a crush on Mario and instigates a brief sexual encounter with him.
Poor Tony Krause
Tony is a heroin addict who wears women’s clothing. After almost taking Drano-laced heroin, he goes through a horrifying detox. Later in the novel he steals the purses of Kate and Ruth. (He is likely present at Facklemann’s downfall, although this is only hinted and not confirmed.)
Bobby C
Bobby C is one of Sorkin’s henchmen who helps take down Facklemann. He is a heroin addict and dies after taking Drano-laced heroin sold to him by Dr. Wo.
Dr. Wo
A drug dealer.
Dwane R. Glynn
A bricklayer who has an accident at work while drunk and tries to claim insurance.
Mario Incandenza, Sr.
Mario is James Sr.’s father, and thus Orin, Mario, and Hal’s great-grandfather.
Student Engineer
A grad student at M.I.T. who is the engineer for WYYY. He is kidnapped and tortured by the A.F.R.
Calvin Thrust
Calvin is former porn star turned Ennet House staffer.
Trevor Axford
Trevor is a student at E.T.A.
Molly Notkin
Molly is a friend of Joelle; they met in the Film Studies PhD program at M.I.T.
Teddy Schacht
Teddy is a student at E.T.A.
Geoffrey Day
Day is a resident of Ennet House addicted to red wine and Quaaludes.
Burt F. Smith
Burt is a resident of Ennet House.
Charlotte Treat
Charlotte is a resident of Ennet House. A former sex worker, she is now exceptionally prudish and spends all her time doing embroidery. Gately wonders if this is just an excuse for her to spend time around needles.
Emil Minty
Emil is a resident of Ennet House.
Keith Freer
Keith is a student at E.T.A.
Bernadette Longley
Bernadette is a student at E.T.A.
Mlle. Thierry Poutrincourt
Poutrincourt is a Quebecoise woman and teacher at E.T.A.
Struck is a student at E.T.A.
Otis P. Lord
Otis is a student at E.T.A.
JJ Penn
JJ is a student at E.T.A.
Evan Ingersoll
Evan is a student at E.T.A.
Ann Kittenplan
Ann is a student at E.T.A.; she ends up at the heart of the Eschaton fiasco.
John L.
John is an AA member who gives a speech at a meeting.
Eugenio Martinez
Eugenio is a volunteer counselor at Ennet House.
Mexican President
President of Mexico during the Gentle administration.
Canadian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada during the Gentle administration.
Marlon K. Bain
Marlon was E.T.A. student who was friends with Orin (they attended at the same time). He is always excessively sweaty.
US Secretary of State
US Secretary of State during the Gentle administration.
Mr. Ogilvie
Mr. Ogilvie is an Entertainment Studies teacher at E.T.A. (His last name appears to be a reference to David Ogilvy, founder of the global advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather.)
Robert F (“Bob Death”)
Bob is a biker and AA member.
Johnette Folz
Johnette is an Ennet House staffer.
Danielle Steenbok
Danielle is a beautiful Ennet House staffer who is rumored to be a member of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
Amy J.
Amy is a resident of Ennet House.
Lucien Antitoi
Lucien is a Quebecois man and low-level separatist dissident. Despite being from Québec, he can’t speak French. He is murdered by the A.F.R.
Bertraund Antitoi
Bertraund is Lucien’s brother; the two run a cartridge rental store in Boston and engage in low-level dissident activity.
“Lateral” Alice Moore
Alice is Charles’s secretary at E.T.A.; she gained her nickname because she can only move sideways.
Yolanda is an Ennet House resident who was formerly a member of a cult.
Idris Arslanian
Idris is a student at E.T.A.
Anton Doucette
Anton is a student at E.T.A.
Ruth van Cleve
Ruth is an Ennet House member who (along with Kate) is robbed by Poor Tony Krause.
Neil Gunther
Neil is a resident of Ennet House.
Rodney Tine, Jr.
Rodney is the son of Rodney Tine, Sr., and is an O.U.S. operative.
“Mad” Matty Pemulis
Matty is Michael’s older brother. He was raped by his father as a child and is now a sex worker.
Tony Nwangi
Tony is a prorector at E.T.A.
Watson is a prorector at E.T.A.
Harv leads an NA meeting Hal attends.
Mrs. Waite
Mrs. Waite was an elderly woman Don Gately knew as a child. She gave Don a birthday cake and shortly after committed suicide.
Kenkle is a janitor at E.T.A. A former prodigy, he received his PhD in low-temperature physics at 21 before being hired by the Office of Naval Research. However, he was dishonorably discharged.
A janitor at E.T.A.
“Ferocious” Francis
Francis is Gately’s AA sponsor. He comes to visit Gately in the hospital and misunderstands Gately’s attempt to communicate that he doesn’t want Demerol.
The second doctor is a Pakistani Muslim who misunderstands Gately’s refusal to be given Demerol or other narcotics.
Wade McDade
Wade is a resident of Ennet House.
Gavin Diehl
Gavin is a resident of Ennet House.
Kieran McKenna
Kieran is a student at E.T.A.
Facklemann is a Dilaudid addict and criminal who works with Gately and who attempts to scam Sorkin and Eighties Bill. He is taken down by Sorkin’s henchmen, who sew his eyes open.
Cathy is a nurse who tends to Gately; Gately finds her attractive.
Pamela Hoffman-Jeep
Pamela Hoffman-Jeep is an alcoholic Gately dates while he is still using drugs. She is the “single passivest person” Gately has ever met.
Eighties Bill
Eighties Bill is a wealthy man who bets $125,000 on a Brown v. Yale football game and wins.
Kyle Coyle
Kyle is a student at E.T.A.
Cosgrove Watt
Cosgrove is one of the only professional actors James ever used in his films. He stars in James’s pornographic, snuff-film style production Accomplice!
Mikey is an alcoholic who speaks at an AA meeting.
Assistant District Attorney
The A.D.A. comes to talk to Pat Montesian about apologizing to Gately as part of his recovery program.
Barry Loach
Loach is a trainer at E.T.A.
Sorkin is a bookmaker whom Facklemann attempts to scam. Sorkin orders his henchmen to take down Facklemann; they do so by sewing his eyes open.
Jim Troeltsch
A student at E.T.A. He wants to become a tennis sports reporter.
Pat Montesian
The manager of Ennet House. Pat is herself also a recovering addict, as well as a victim of a stroke that has left her face partially paralyzed. She has a soft spot for Don Gately.
Todd Possalthwaite
A student at E.T.A.
Dr. Dolores Rusk
The psychologist at Enfield Tennis Academy.
Eric Clipperton
A 16-year-old tennis phenom who became a legend when he threatened to shoot himself if he ever lost a game.
P. Tom Veals
The campaign manager for Johnny Gentle, and a co-owner of the advertising agency Viney and Veals.
Kevin Bain
Marlon's older brother. Hal encounters Kevin at an Inner Infant group meeting, during which Kevin weeps more than Hal has ever seen another person weep.