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, as Marathe points out, Steeply’s mission of trying to intercept the master copy of the Entertainment in order to stop it being distributed to American citizens theoretically violates his belief in this freedom. Steeply isn’t trans, just in disguise, yet is referred to with she/her pronouns when appearing as Helen in the book. When it is unclear under what guise Steeply is in, s/he and her/his are used. Steeply is large is stature, and the book fixates on the apparent incongruity between his size and female presentation.
Hugh / Helen Steeply Quotes in Infinite Jest
The Infinite Jest quotes below are all either spoken by Hugh / Helen Steeply or refer to Hugh / Helen Steeply. 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: 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 51 Quotes
I couldn't even stand to be in the same room, see him like that. Begging for just even a few seconds - a trailer, a snatch of soundtrack, anything. His eyes wobbling around like some drug-addicted newborn.
Hugh / Helen Steeply Character Timeline in Infinite Jest
The timeline below shows where the character Hugh / Helen Steeply appears in Infinite Jest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...his wheelchair watching the sun set in a suburb of Tucson, Arizona. He hears Hugh Steeply, a field operative from Unspecified Services, yell and curse as he accidentally collides with a... (full context)
...a Nazi, and another student—who is known for sucking up to Schtitt—objects. Back in Tucson, Steeply talks to Marathe about someone called Rod Tine’s love for Luria. Marathe comments that it... (full context)
...that he did, at the age of 13. Orin mentions that the journalist’s name is Helen. Orin asks about the P.G.O.A.T.—Joelle—and Hal explains that she hasn’t been around E.T.A. since she... (full context)
...political. Orin admits that he is interested in all this because of his latest Subject, Helen, who he claims is different to all his previous Subjects. He questions Hal about Canadian... (full context)
...hate Anglophone Canada far more than they hate O.N.A.N. Hal asks for more information about Helen, and when Orin gets cagey, Hal brings up Orin’s promiscuity and fetish for married mothers.... (full context)
...fatal flaw in all his work was plot. (An endnote here contains a “transcript-fragment” from Helen Steeply’s interview with Orin in Moment magazine. Orin explains how James slowly lost his sanity... (full context)
...missed the whole Eschaton fiasco. Charles has also been preoccupied with the imminent arrival of Helen Steeply on E.T.A.’s campus.) Mario gives a very short introduction to the film, which is... (full context)
...this shows that they do not actually trust citizens to make their own free choices. Steeply insists that there is a huge difference between the “enslaving” nature of the Entertainment and... (full context)
Pre-Dawn, 1 May — Y.D.A.U. Outcropping Northwest of Tucson AZ U.S.A., Still. Steeply mentions a Canadian biomedical experiment in the 1970s wherein electro-implantations were to be placed in... (full context)
...were totally normal, average young people. The Canadian government was horrified by the whole situation. Steeply points out that the experiment is a good analogy for the Entertainment. (full context)
Pre-Dawn, 1 May — Y.D.A.U. Outcropping Northwest of Tucson AZ U.S.A., Still. Steeply asks if Marathe has ever considered watching The Entertainment. First Marathe confirms that the A.F.R.... (full context)
Pre-Dawn and Dawn, 1 May Y.D.A.U. Outcropping Northwest of Tucson AZ U.S.A., Still. Marathe and Steeply discuss an “Oriental myth” about a woman with blonde hair all over her body. Although... (full context)
...sex with a Swiss hand-model he met in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport after dropping off Helen Steeply at departures. (An endnote here provides more transcript fragments of Steeply’s interview with Orin... (full context)
...“worship[ing] Mario,” treating him as a “secular martyr.” However, he then starts refusing to answer Helen’s questions, pointing out that Hal will read the article and then show it to Mario.... (full context)
...the Boston Duck Pond undergoing its annual draining. Tine’s son Rodney Tine Jr., who—like Hugh Steeply—is a O.U.S. operative, is sitting with Steeply in the same conference room as his father. (full context)
...Hal and Stice. DeLint has left, and Thierry Poutrincourt has come to sit next to Steeply instead. She explains that E.T.A. staff might seem unfriendly because they are protective of their... (full context)
...Entertainment and appeared to have obtained them via a relative who was an athlete (Orin). Steeply has been “clinging to this person like a bad odor.” Fortier notices that the U.S.... (full context)
...Entertainment is likely in this very house. Or, perhaps, he should do neither and summon Steeply and the O.U.S. forces to Ennet House instead. He tries to envision which would create... (full context)