Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Infinite Jest can help.
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 is his uncle. Born prematurely, he has severe physical and mental disabilities. Like James, he makes films, and much of his work bears the mark of James’s style. Mario is the most moral and kind person in the novel. However, despite his kindness, people often only “tolerate” him rather than embracing his company. He cares deeply about others and offers insightful advice, particularly to Hal, with whom he shares a room at E.T.A. He is extremely close to Avril; both Orin and Hal think that Mario is her favorite child.
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Mario Incandenza Character Timeline in Infinite Jest

The timeline below shows where the character Mario Incandenza appears in Infinite Jest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...and doesn’t get back until after dinner. He shares a room with his younger brother Mario, who doesn’t play tennis. Someone calls Hal on his cell phone and tells him: “My... (full context)
Chapter 7
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Mid-conversation, Mario asks Hal if he is asleep, and Hal reminds him that he can’t talk if... (full context)
Chapter 9
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
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...the loop. He sits staring at it, his dinner untouched, having peed his pants. Meanwhile, Mario is tasked with filming E.T.A. students playing tennis, so they can visualize their mistakes and... (full context)
Chapter 14
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...he is almost 70 and less strict. He is fond of having long conversations with Mario in which he mostly talks while Mario listens. One day, while Schtitt and Mario are... (full context)
Chapter 18
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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...match, but then realize you actually need to poop. It’s almost time for dinner. Sometimes, Mario is allowed to ring the triangle that signals mealtimes. Hal tries to calculate if there’s... (full context)
Chapter 19
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
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Mario Incandenza’s First and Only Even Remotely Romantic Experience, Thus Far .Around 7 pm one day... (full context)
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Millicent takes Mario’s hand and tells him about her father’s fetish for wearing clothes belonging to female relatives.... (full context)
Chapter 32
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...know how to be entertainers. Despite the fact that WYYY emits a high-pitched sound while Mario listens to it in the dining room, Avril doesn’t stop him. Mario would love to... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
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...a week Hal is allowed to eat with her (as well as Uncle Charles and Mario). For dessert, she serves “high-protein-gelatin squares” which are like “Jell-O on steroids.” The dinner always... (full context)
Chapter 37
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...and reviews the details of James’s suicide with Hal. Hal notes that no one except Mario really talks about James or his suicide these days. Orin asks who found James’s body,... (full context)
Chapter 38
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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Orin left the world of competitive tennis when Hal was 9 and Mario 10. As a tennis player, Orin peaked at 13. Still, he had good grades and,... (full context)
Chapter 40
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
...long endnote here describes Hal on the same 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... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Exhibiting almost no signs of pregnancy, Avril did not know she was pregnant with Mario until her water broke. Mario was extremely premature and “had to be more or less... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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Mario is also cognitively impaired, and he remains on the outside of life at E.T.A., although... (full context)
Chapter 44
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...seek help from Lyle, he spent hours drinking whisky while Lyle drank caffeine-free Diet Coke. Mario would be there too, drifting in and out of sleep. During one of these nights... (full context)
Chapter 45
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8 November Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment Interdependence Day Gaudeamus Igitur. Mario’s first finished and “halfway-coherent” film was of a finger puppet show, and it was such... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...called Johnny Gentle who became President of the U.S., and it mixes historical facts with Mario’s own inventions. The O.N.A.N. era is introduced with President Gentle telling the Mexican President and... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
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Lyle’s advice tends to be straightforward and effective. Back upstairs, Mario’s film features James’s signature blending of clips from real and fake news cartridges. The headers... (full context)
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Mario’s interest in puppets is another thing he inherited from James, who once made a short... (full context)
Entertainment Theme Icon
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Back in Mario’s film, more headlines announce the emergence of birth defects in babies born near the Great... (full context)
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In Mario’s representation of the meeting between Gentle’s cabinet, the President of Mexico, the P.M. of Canada,... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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...beat him. No one knows where Clipperton came from; the only person he befriended was Mario, who was eight at the time they met. (full context)
Chapter 46
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
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...conversation Clipperton shot himself in the head, killing himself for real in front of James, Mario, and Lyle. At Clipperton’s funeral in Indiana Mario still did not stop smiling, even as... (full context)
Entertainment Theme Icon
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Mario’s film is still playing, and the E.T.A. audience members are getting increasingly fidgety. Headlines announce... (full context)
Chapter 48
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...Hal has a recurring dream in which his teeth crumble and splinter inside his mouth. Mario is distressed by Madame Psychosis’s unexplained absence from WYYY. For a while a grad student... (full context)
Chapter 49
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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...conundrums currently affecting the academy. In passing it is then hinted that Charles is actually Mario’s father. At E.T.A., training times are split by gender and staggered, and the best players... (full context)
Chapter 58
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Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
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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 answer Helen’s questions,... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
On November 25, Mario will turn 19. When he was six, the disability he’d had since birth was diagnosed... (full context)
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Suddenly, Mario hears the sound of a recording of Madame Psychosis’s radio show coming through an open... (full context)
Chapter 64
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...accidentally bumps into a small child, who asks if the bureaucrat is Jesus. It is Mario’s favorite of James’s films. (full context)
Chapter 70
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11 November Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Mario is making a documentary about E.T.A., and has taken to walking around campus with a... (full context)
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LaMont then asks that Mario put the camera aside so they can discuss the mysterious meeting Hal and Pemulis had... (full context)
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Mario says that he’s heard about the journalist who’s looking for Hal. He tries to question... (full context)
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Avril and Mario discuss dissociation; Avril says that some people are “deeply afraid of their own emotions.” She... (full context)
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It is early morning, before dawn, and Hal tells Mario that he just had a terrible dream. Mario says that Hal kept repeating “Thank you... (full context)
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Hal tells Mario that the man from O.N.A.N.T.A. didn’t actually take urine samples from him and the other... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
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...only had sex twice. Eventually she stops responding to him at all. Back at E.T.A., Mario tells Hal that he seems sad, and Hal confesses to his secret marijuana use in... (full context)
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
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...she discovers he’s been keeping a huge secret from her. He says he understands that Mario is hurt by this information, too, but Mario responds that he is actually “zero percent... (full context)
Chapter 73
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Reality as Corporate Dystopia Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
...Undergarment Gaudeamus Igitur. Hal dreams that he is in a zoo. When he wakes up, Mario is still asleep in his bed. Every year, E.T.A. hosts a “semipublic exhibition meet” between... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...see who it was. Hal says he doesn’t know what to believe regarding paranormal activity; Mario has claimed to see ghosts, and Mario always tells the truth. Hal attempts to remove... (full context)
Chapter 74
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The narrative switches back to Hal’s first-person perspective. Kyle Coyle and Mario are watching an early film by James called Accomplice!. They discuss the incident of Ortho... (full context)
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
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...someone, and he is annoyed that it was “wasted” on Orin. Of all the brothers, Mario had spent the most time around James when he was still alive, and Orin doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 75
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
...absolutely no one would touch him. Eventually, one person chose to enthusiastically shake his hand: Mario Incandenza. (full context)