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Kate Gompert

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Kate Gompert is a secondary character in Infinite Jest, who is a member at Ennet House because of her addiction to marijuana.


Kate turned to marijuana to mitigate her feelings of depression, and it became the center of her life. She would binge on it, using constantly in large doses, and then stop for a period to clean up her work and life. Once she would stop smoking, she would start to feel that awful sinking, lonely feeling. Through this brutal cycle Kate develops the notion that she absolutely needs marijuana, or "Bob Hope," as she calls it. This is one instance of Abusable Escape, but with a twist, because Kate needs to use the addiction to marijuana as an escape from her feeling of depression. The last we as readers hear of Kate Gompert is in a short passage describing a discussion between Gompert and Rémy Marathe. The discussion takes place in a bar following a scene in which Gompert is mugged. The scene foreshadows her return to substance abuse as Gompert makes excuses for getting drunk, stating "I'm in there for drugs. I've never had more than a beer ever in my life" (774). She continues to drown her sorrows in alcohol, presumably developing a new addiction, as she refers to drinking as "novocaine of the soul" (775).


Gompert suffers from psychotic, unipolar depression. She attempted suicide, and claims to the doctor, "I wasn't trying to hurt myself. I was was trying to kill myself. There's a difference." She says that she can no longer handle anymore hurt or pain, and that she just wanted to stop feeling. She wants the feeling of feeling nothing. Kate is incredibly conscious of this feeling, one that affects her mental state rather than is her mental state. Kate's "psychotic" depression leads to incredible loneliness, because her behavior, and that of other psychotically depressed people, is driven by forces that in critical ways only she can feel and understand. Wallace tries frequently to express what real depression is and can do to someone, and with Kate Gompert he exposes the feelings, or reasoning, of someone who is clinically depressed. Wallace suffered from depression in his own life as well.

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