Lesson 1 (from Chapter 1, Year of Glad, and Chapter 2, Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment)
Chapter 1, Year of Glad, and Chapter 2, Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment
Wallace opens Infinite Jest with 18-year-old Hal in the administration building of the university, about to be interviewed by deans and a tennis coach. Hal is a great tennis player with many accomplishments, but the deans find his lack of verbal skills troubling. Hal tries to speak but begins to panic, making animalistic gibberish noises. The administrators determine that Hal is an unfit candidate for the university because he is so disturbed. This is a very dramatic opening for the novel, meant to show Hal's state at some point in his life, either in the future or in the past. The reader is unsure at this point what has caused Hal to lose all verbal skills. This lesson will examine Wallace's purpose in this dramatic opening for the novel.
1. Class Discussion: What are...
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