Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

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Avril Incandenza Character Analysis

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 caused her problems in getting an American visa (these problems were resolved through her marriage to James). She is beautiful and intelligent, but also overly-protective and controlling. During her marriage to James she had numerous affairs, including with “over thirty Near Eastern medical attachés,” her stepbrother Charles, and possibly even Orin. She engages in a prolonged sexual relationship with E.T.A. student John Wayne while he is below the age of consent. Professionally, Avril runs E.T.A along with Charles. Avril’s sons nickname her “the Moms.”

Avril Incandenza Quotes in Infinite Jest

The Infinite Jest quotes below are all either spoken by Avril Incandenza or refer to Avril Incandenza. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of Infinite Jest published in 1996.
Chapter 3 Quotes

“I'm ten for Pete's sake. I think maybe your appointment calendar's squares got juggled. I'm the potentially gifted ten-year-old tennis and lexical prodigy whose mom's a continental mover and shaker in the prescriptive grammar academic world and whose dad's a towering figure in optical and avant-garde film circles and single-handedly founded the Enfield Tennis Academy but drinks Wild Turkey at like 5:00 a.m. and pitches over sideways during dawn drills, on the courts, some days, and some days presents with delusions about people's mouths moving but nothing coming out. I'm not even up to J yet, in the condensed O.E.D., much less Québec or malevolent Lurias.

Related Symbols: Substances
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
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Infinite Jest PDF

Avril Incandenza Character Timeline in Infinite Jest

The timeline below shows where the character Avril Incandenza appears in Infinite Jest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...story his older brother Orin told him from their childhood. Orin was helping their mother Avril, who they nickname “the Moms,” to mow the lawn. Hal came out of the house... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...what he is talking about. The two talk across each other. The man mentions that Avril has had sexual relations with over 30 “Near Eastern medical attachés,” while Hal gets increasingly... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...heights, which usually begin “with some sort of competitive-tennis situation.” Last night he dreamed that Avril’s head was attached to his own like a helmet. (full context)
Chapter 9
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...acquaintances knows he gets high, and he avoids doing it with anyone else whenever possible. Avril knows that Hal occasionally drinks, and while she worries about this because of James’s alcoholism,... (full context)
Chapter 12
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James was a tall and awkward alcoholic, yet still managed to marry Avril, one of the only “bombshell-type females” of the academic world. Avril was a highly successful... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...is playing a competitive tennis match being watched by an enormous crowd. He can see Avril in the audience, her fist raised in a gesture of “unconditional support.” (full context)
Chapter 32
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Avril Incandenza quit her studies at M.I.T. to focus full-time on designing E.T.A.’s curriculum. E.T.A. is... (full context)
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...a somewhat negative worldview, and for a while only discussed depressing books on her show. Avril retains the Canadian habit of eating supper very late, just before bed, and twice a... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...Orin comments on how traumatized Hal must have been, and Hal recalls the grief counseling Avril made him attend. He describes the grief counselor as insatiable, and says it was “the... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...colleges. He chose to attend Boston University, which is not a strong school for tennis. Avril helped him make the decision, believing it was good for him to leave home but... (full context)
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...a Convocation address to E.T.A., Uncle Charles explained that it would have been absurd for Avril to become Headmistress on top of her many other responsibilities, not to mention her grief.... (full context)
Chapter 40
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...day, 11/7/Y.D.A.U., looking through a box of Mario’s old letters and snapshots. It mentions that Avril’s honors thesis at McGill was about the punctuation in Emily Dickinson’s poetry. This is followed... (full context)
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Exhibiting almost no signs of pregnancy, Avril did not know she was pregnant with Mario until her water broke. Mario was extremely... (full context)
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...although Lyle loves him and Hal, who calls him “Booboo,” secretly “idealizes” him. Hal thinks Avril might believe that Mario is the true prodigy of the family. Mario was the first... (full context)
Chapter 52
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...left her only able to move from side to side. There is no door on Avril’s office because she has a disregard for physical boundaries. Avril is Dean of Academic Affairs... (full context)
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...as a “diddle-check” in the text. Dr. Rusk usually runs this check, but this month Avril is doing it. This leads Hal to suspect that Rusk might be involved in the... (full context)
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...“gifted bureaucrats.” He has a small, wonky mustache, and eyes that sit at different angles. Avril has a way of placing herself in the middle of every room such that she... (full context)
Chapter 56
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...control. Stice objects to Dr. Rusk’s diagnosis. It is late, though the lights inside both Avril’s office and the Headmaster’s Office are still on. Pemulis enters Avril’s office and finds John... (full context)
Chapter 58
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...his life, which is demonstrated by his chosen suicide method. Orin no longer speaks to Avril because he doesn’t trust her. He believes that she has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder but that because... (full context)
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(In the same endnote, Orin also accuses Avril of “worship[ing] Mario,” treating him as a “secular martyr.” However, he then starts refusing to... (full context)
Chapter 62
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...but Charles won’t let her have a conversation with him yet. No one knows where Avril is. Back in Arizona, Orin is once again having sex with the “Swiss” hand-model. Aubrey... (full context)
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...was attached to it, thereby killing S. Johnson in a gruesome manner. Orin lied to Avril, saying S. Johnson was killed by another driver while he and Bain were taking the... (full context)
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...hamsters—the kind that originate in the Great Concavity—which would distract Charles from the Eschaton situation. Avril has a severe phobia of rodents. (full context)
Chapter 69
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...she’s ever met. Orin once told her that while James just stared at him blankly, Avril told him she loved him roughly one hundred times each day. (full context)
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...talk to Orin or Hal. Orin used to cry about his nonfunctional relationship with James. Avril always creeped out Joelle, and Joelle was convinced that Avril “wished her ill.” She remembers... (full context)
Chapter 70
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...Mario agrees, it seems that he doesn’t entirely understand the request. Mario then goes to Avril’s office, where his mother greets him joyfully and immediately abandons her phone call. Mario tells... (full context)
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...says that he’s heard about the journalist who’s looking for Hal. He tries to question Avril about Charles and Hal and the Eschaton punishment, but she asks him about his day... (full context)
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Avril and Mario discuss dissociation; Avril says that some people are “deeply afraid of their own... (full context)
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...and wonders what the consequences will be. He thinks that something awful will happen to Avril if she discovers he’s been keeping a huge secret from her. He says he understands... (full context)
Chapter 71
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...to believe that it is “lethally entertaining.” Molly asks why the O.U.S. never went to Avril directly to ask about the master copy, and there is no response. (full context)
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...James’s suicide, which itself has nothing to do with the Entertainment. She also thinks that Avril planted the bottle of Wild Turkey whisky near James’s dead body because she resented that... (full context)
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...attending WhataBurger, and adds that he has something important he needs to speak about with Avril. DeLint tells Pemulis that E.T.A. believes he dosed Wayne with stimulants against his knowledge. Pemulis... (full context)
Chapter 74
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...think that Hal was not speaking, whereas Hal would think that he was. Charles is Avril’s stepbrother. Avril’s father was a binge drinker who would disappear for weeks at a time,... (full context)
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Hal recalls when James’s obsession with making films began, shortly after E.T.A. was founded. Avril assumed it was just a phase, and Hal wonders if part of the reason why... (full context)
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After James’s funeral, Avril spent more and more time locked up inside the Headmaster’s House. This has accelerated the... (full context)
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Orin thinks that James was still a virgin in his late 30s, when he and Avril met, and also that James’s fixation with Joelle was totally non-sexual. Hal suddenly has a... (full context)