Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace discussion

Infinite Jest
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Character/Org. Discussions > The Prettiest Girl of All Time

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Spencer | 9 comments Just finished IJ for the second time and several questions cross my mind about Joelle. One: What's her real name? I had completely forgotten that there's a mention of her name actually NOT being Jo Elle van Dyne. Second: Is she really deformed or not? I guess this is part of her charm. It seems likely that, since she apparently told her friend (who is, admittedly, not to be taken as an absolute authority) and also tells Steeply that she IS deformed, that she probably is. Third: Why do none of the Incandenzas seem to recognize the voice on the radio as that of Himself's go-to actress and Orin's ex?


Travelling Sunny (Sunny_In_Wonderland) I've been guessing that she is not deformed. Although she has been telling folks that she is, it may just be her own little 'psychosis' over some minor blemish or something. She is, after all, the prettiest girl of all time.

Good point about them not recognizing her voice. I hadn't thought about it. Maybe Orin doesn't hear the radio show out where he's at on the 'show', Hal's too stoned, and Mario is, well, Mario?


Travelling Sunny (Sunny_In_Wonderland) I'm only half way through the book, but I'm back Spencer. I'm back because I just ran across a line in the book that may answer your third question. Page 535 - Gately speaking to PGOAT: "Your voice gets different when you talk about this shit."

Just a theory.


Spencer | 9 comments I guess it's true that Mario is the only one in the family to really pay a lot of attention to the radio program. Maybe he's subconciously drawn to it, having witnessed the actual filming of the Entertainment. I suppose it may also be true that Mario DOES recognize the voice, but never tells anyone else in the family that he knows who it is. Too bad Wallace isn't around to write him and find out. Despite there being a few very minor inconsistencies in the book, somehow I don't think of that as being an oversight on Wallace's part. The denial may be just another part of the weird psychological make-up of the Incandnza family.


message 5: by Travelling Sunny (last edited Dec 05, 2012 05:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Travelling Sunny (Sunny_In_Wonderland) I'm still in my first read, and have just read page 634: (view spoiler) So, I've changed my mind, and now I think that she WAS deformed disfigured. LOL!

Oh man, Spencer... how many times am I going to be changing my mind about this by the time I finish?


Spencer | 9 comments I don't know. I think he left it ambiguous on purpose to enhance her mysterious-female archetype. But I lean toward her actually being disfigured. But it might not be nearly as bad as she thinks it is.


Petra Chiming in a bit late......
I think Joelle is disfigured (view spoiler). Orin, in a way, feels guilty for saving himself at her expense and their relationship went downhill after it.
I don't think the incident is the sole reason for the break-up....more of a "last straw". Orin was already jealous of James' influence on Joelle and I wonder whether Joelle was happy within the relationship. The parts that talk about her obsessive cleaning at night when Orin is sleeping sort of says that she's not happy.
There's also the reference somewhere that James was her soulmate (or something like that...I'd have to find it again). There wasn't a physical relationship between Joelle & James but a spiritual or soul relationship is deeper than the physical.

For a short while I wondered about the disfigurement as well. It was during the time when Joelle (??, I think it was her) was talking about being so pretty that it was a deformity. I thought maybe she was talking about herself. However, I think she was just musing about her days as the PGOAT.
She's got a pretty good idea of what it's like to be on both sides: the over-pretty & the disfigured. I think what she was saying in that passage is that either extreme was dysfunctional or binding to the person in some way.


Garima | 45 comments Petra wrote: "Chiming in a bit late......
I think Joelle is disfigured [spoilers removed]. Orin, in a way, feels guilty for saving himself at her expense and their relationship went downhill after it.
I don't t..."


She is disfigured, yes. It was a smart move by Wallace to let the readers assume for majority of the narration that Joelle's deformity is basically her extraordinary beauty and when the acid incident revealed, it took the form of a kind of test for readers (at least I thought it to be like this) that what would you prefer, something unbearably beautiful or unbearably ugly and like you stated, it tells us what it feels like to be on both sides.

About none of the Incandenzas recognising Joelle's voice, Mario definitely recognised it and I can't recall properly (God, I need to read it again!), there was a mention that she attains an accent when talking to somebody in person so possibly her voice sounds different on Radio for this reason.


message 9: by Mala (last edited Mar 15, 2013 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mala | 82 comments I think it's hard to decide one way or the other- that acid story is coming from Molly N & she perhaps heard it from Joelle herself,who deliberately hid herself behind a veil- perhaps out of guilt for what happened to her family,between Orin & JOI!?
I once heard some journalist friend describe Aishwarya Rai as 'so beautiful,it hurts the eyes!'
Joelle's 'disfigurement' is maybe something like that. In the hospital scenes with Gately,whatever little is seen of her face is always normal.
Gately did recognise her voice & perhaps the Incandenza boys couldn't because the movies were silent ones!?


message 10: by Garima (last edited Mar 15, 2013 10:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Garima | 45 comments Mala wrote: "I once heard some journalist friend describe Aishwarya Rai as 'so beautiful,it hurts the eyes!"

Yeah! A friend of mine was told by someone that one shouldn't be too beautiful in this world, anyways it could be both ways as there are many hints thrown by Wallace here, conforming to both the cases.

Gately did recognise her voice & perhaps the Incandenza boys couldn't because the movies were silent ones!?

But Incandenza boys met her and talked to her in person.


message 11: by Mala (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mala | 82 comments It was mentioned somewhere that as she grew more sophisticated,she concealed her natural southern accent & could reply to ppl using theirs.
And before Avril,she barely managed to speak! ( recall the dining table conversation- duopolised by the Moms & Hal).


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Jason (ancatdubh2) | 147 comments Lucille Duquette!


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