Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

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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 order to stop her getting too drunk. He plays high school football, but his drinking and drug use lead him to fail his classes; he is kicked off the football team and leaves school. Gately begins working for Facklemann, and witnesses Facklemann’s gruesome downfall at the hands of Sorkin and Eighties Bill. He became a professional burglar, and accidentally kills Guillaume DuPlessis during a botched robbery. In order to avoid going to prison he checks into Ennet House, where he eventually becomes a residential staffer. He ends up getting shot while defending Randy Lenz from a group of Quebecois men. In the hospital, he is visited by a “wraith” who is the spirit of James Incandenza. During this time, he has a potentially prophetic vision of helping Hal to dig up James’s head. Despite his tough exterior, Gately is highly protective of people, particularly the Ennet House residents. He develops feelings for Joelle in spite of the rule against relationships between Ennet House residents and staffers.

Don Gately Quotes in Infinite Jest

The Infinite Jest quotes below are all either spoken by Don Gately or refer to Don Gately. 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 69 Quotes

After so long not caring, and then now the caring crashes back in and turns so easily into obsessive worry, in sobriety. A few days before the debacle in which Don Gately got hurt, Joelle had begun to worry obsessively about her teeth. Smoking 'base cocaine eats teeth, corrodes teeth, attacks the enamel directly.

Related Symbols: Substances
Page Number: 723
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Infinite Jest LitChart as a printable PDF.
Infinite Jest PDF

Don Gately Character Timeline in Infinite Jest

The timeline below shows where the character Don Gately appears in Infinite Jest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...Hal also thinks about Wayne standing guard when Hal dug up his father’s head with Don Gately.  Because Wayne is not playing, Hal is sure that he himself will win, and... (full context)
Chapter 10
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...in order to buy drugs do not choose violent crime, but rather opt for burglary. Don Gately is a 27-year-old narcotics addict with a preference for Demerol and Talwin, and also... (full context)
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
The homeowner, Guillaume DuPlessis, begs Gately not to gag him because his illness means he can only breathe through his mouth.... (full context)
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
After Gately and his associate leave, DuPlessis remains bound for hours, slowly suffocating from a combination of... (full context)
Chapter 33
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...tattoo that reads MILDRED BONK. After two months of obsessive thinking about tattoos, Ewell asks Don Gately if prison tattoos should constitute a whole separate category. Gately, who usually ignores Ewell... (full context)
Chapter 38
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Both Pat Montesian and Don Gately’s AA sponsor say that Gately should take a lesson in “patience and tolerance” from... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately has witnessed dozens of people enter Ennet House only to relapse, end up in prison,... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately has been taking mental notes on all the residents. Emil Minty is a punk heroin... (full context)
Chapter 43
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...pay forward to other people. The chairperson of the Concord group shares his story while Gately listens from the front row. Despite the Interdependence Day holiday, the meeting is still packed. (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...way to shock when they find that it actually does help to keep you sober. Gately was actually disturbed when he initially realized that AA worked, convinced that he must be... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...of the Concord group tells his story in a heavy, almost incomprehensible accent. One of Gately’s best assets as an Ennet House staffer is his skill in explaining how he came... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
In Gately’s first month of sobriety, he was comforted by telling everyone present at the meeting how... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...truths exist, suggesting that “the truth is usually not just un- but anti-interesting.” One of Gately’s jobs as a live-in staffer is to be on “Dream Duty,” taking care of people... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately is fond of Ken Erdedy, who is at Ennet House to tackle his marijuana addiction.... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...God” is a subjunctive phrase and thus should introduce a conditional clause. Hearing her voice, Gately feels like he’s met her before. He thinks she’s expressing her denial through this kind... (full context)
Chapter 46
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
As well as being a residential staffer at Ennet House, Gately works as a janitor at the Shattuck Shelter for Homeless Males on the side. He... (full context)
Chapter 47
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. In July, Don Gately tells the White Flag meeting that he feels ashamed that he still doesn’t have... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...point that people start “getting in touch” with their most painful feelings and memories. Both Gately’s father and stepfather beat his mother, who was also an alcoholic. As a child, Gately... (full context)
Chapter 49
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...is “rumored also to attend Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.” Back when he was drinking, Gately’s driver’s license was revoked after he was given a DUI. Gately originally came to Ennet... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...Her right hand, on which she wears a brace, remains in a permanent claw position. Gately had been one of her favorite residents when he arrived. (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...you have to do is relax and follow the instructions and you’ll get a cake. Gately is Ennet House’s resident chef, which is odd because he isn’t a very good cook.... (full context)
Chapter 50
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
New resident Amy J. tries to get out of eating Gately’s boiled hot dogs by claiming that Red Dye #4 gives her “cluster migraines,” while Joelle... (full context)
Chapter 54
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...between U.H.I.D. and AA. It is revealed that the person Joelle is talking to is Don Gately. She tells him about the different steps of membership in U.H.I.D. Don says that... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Joelle points out that Don has a tendency to hide behind his own (metaphorical) mask. Don begins to get irritated... (full context)
Chapter 57
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 58
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Selected Snippets From the Individual-Resident-Informal-Interface Moments of D.W. Gately, Live-In Staff, Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House, Enfield MA, On and Off From... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...and more whenever he tries to talk about “real” things people around him get uncomfortable. Gately, meanwhile, has a long list of evening duties to complete, some of which are more... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
A new resident has arrived named Ruth van Cleve, and Gately has to oversee her introduction and orientation to the House. In general, he has to... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...is “a depressing new Sober Club” in Davis Square). Two other residents return together, and Gately concludes from their body language that they may be conducting a forbidden relationship. Lenz slips... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately dislikes the fact that he must now ask Green for a urine test, as the... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...fever brought on by diverticulitis, a condition suffered by alcoholics new to sobriety. Stepping outside, Gately sees Lenz being chased in a circle by two men with “vaguely non-U.S. beards.” A... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately explains to the non-American men that he is responsible for the people assembled there and... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...Treat repeatedly recites the Serenity Prayer. Joelle successfully lands on the ground and runs toward Gately, who’s decided he needs to immediately lie down on the ground. The residents crowd around... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Despite Gately’s insistence, several residents are trying to make calls anyway. An Enfield Marine Hospital security guard... (full context)
Chapter 66
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...her trips to the NA-spinoff Cocaine Anonymous useful. She has developed a problematic attachment to Gately, however. (An endnote clarifies that it’s problematic because Ennet House discourages residents from forming “sentimental... (full context)
Chapter 69
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...in Ennet House have black teeth, and some no teeth at all. Joelle fantasizes about Gately as a dentist tending to her teeth. Back at the Antitois’ shop, Fortier and his... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...at bay by cleaning, which gave her a sense of independence and control. Before meeting Gately, Joelle had not been thinking much of the Incandenzas, who are the “second-saddest” family she’s... (full context)
Chapter 71
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
17 November Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Don Gately is on medical leave from Ennet House. Someone knocks on the door, and Johnette... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately is lying in the Trauma Wing of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Tiny Ewell is there with... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
After surgery Gately remembers hearing his doctor telling someone, possibly Pat, that he has a severe infection. Ewell... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Someone, possibly Joelle, is sponging Gately’s face with a cold washcloth. Later Pat comes in and assures him that everything in... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Charlotte Treat is embroidering a get-well message for Gately. Calvin says the biggest problem they’re facing is that the gun Gately was shot with... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Gately keeps having a recurring nightmare about an acne-scarred “Oriental” woman. In another dream, Gately is... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...wraith hoped that the Entertainment would be a way of saying “I’M SORRY” to Hal. Gately thinks of his grim relationship with his own father, but the wraith dramatically interrupts to... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately is still deeply traumatized by the memories of his mother being beaten up by her... (full context)
Chapter 72
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment 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.... (full context)
Chapter 73
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
In Gately’s hospital room, in what he now realizes is an “apparently real nondream,” Joelle holds two... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Like most recovering addicts, Gately has a problem with an extreme, hasty desire for attachment, and fantasizes about a lifetime... (full context)
Chapter 74
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Gately is half asleep again. Joelle is gone, and a nurse comes in and gives Gately... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately desperately tries to write a question asking if any of the Canadians were killed, but... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
The doctor says that Gately’s pain will get worse and that he wants to give him many further narcotics. The... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
In desperation, Gately yanks the doctor’s testicles. The doctor screams. The pain of this gesture is so intense... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately suddenly feels hugely sorry for himself and resentful at the AA concept of a loving... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
As a child, Gately was nicknamed Bim, which stood for Big Indestructible Moron. He had a “jolly ferocity” that... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Gately didn’t start burgling straight away; at first he worked in the underworld gambling world with... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
One New Year’s Eve, Gately was making fake IDs for boarding school students when he watched a B.U. football game... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Gately suddenly realizes that he hallucinated Joelle’s whole visit and the conversation about her family. Years... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Facklemann attempted to scam Eighties Bill and Sorkin, the bookmaker who arranged the bet. Gately and Facklemann would take Dilaudid together, and Gately told himself that he was doing it... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Back in Gately’s past, he and Facklemann were binging Dilaudid to the point that they were “flirting with... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...or both. As part of his Phob-Comp-Anon program, the A.D.A. needs to make amends with Gately, but he has been having a very difficult time bringing himself to do so. (full context)
Chapter 75
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
Gately is lying in his hospital bed, feeling the hottest he’s ever felt in his life.... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
...C, oversees a pharmacist’s assistant withdrawing two syringes filled with an unknown liquid. C tells Gately not to worry, as Sorkin doesn’t think Gately was part of Facklemann’s plan to screw... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
The pharmacist’s assistant injects Gately with something he calls “pharm-grade Sunshine” (an endnote explains this is the third hardest drug... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Gately tries to figure out what’s going on before the Sunshine kicks in, while he still... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
As Gately finally gets high off the Sunshine, the room and everyone in it melt away in... (full context)