Ortho "The Darkness" Stice

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Ortho Stice is another of Hal Incandenza's close friends at the Enfield Tennis Academy. He is referred to as "The Darkness" by his peers because he "makes the companies that give him clothes and gear give him all black clothes and gear" (100), and thus is never seen in any color besides black. Stice hails from "a part of southwest Kansas that might as well be Oklahoma" (100), has six siblings, and refers to his mother as "The Bride" (629).


Throughout the course of Infinite Jest, Stice's tennis skills improve greatly. Near the end of the novel, Stice and Hal are made to play a "off-record nonchallenge exhibitionish engagement . . . for reasons no one has yet pinned down" by Schtitt. Stice takes Hal to three sets and nearly beats him until his nerves get the best of him. The staff at the E.T.A. tell Stice that he has "quite a legit shot at the Show when he graduates" (394).


After he nearly beats Hal, Stice begins to exhibit odd behavior. He gets his forehead stuck to a window late one night, and when Hal comes upon him, asks Hal if he believes in "'parabnormal shit'" (870). He then tells Hal that "'there was somebody standing back there about maybe an hour back. But he just stood there. Then he wernt away. Or . . . it'" (870). It is widely suggested, based on this scene and Stice's erratic behavior, that he is being visited by the ghost of James Incandenza. In fact, Stice's bed is frequently moved across the room while he sleeps, and he originally blames his roommate, Kyle Coyle, for messing with his mind. During a talk with Lyle, however, Stice begins to consider paranormal interference when Lyle reminds him to "not underestimate objects" (395).