Marathe is a quadruple agent in Infinite Jest, pretending to pretend to betray his organization, the A.F.R. (Wheelchair Assassins). His wife has ventricular restinosis, a very deadly heart affliction, so he manipulates both the A.F.R. and the USOUS (United States Office of Unspecified Services) in order to get help for her condition. Part of his betrayal of the AFR involves him secretly meeting and conversing with USOUS agent Helen (Hugh) Steeply. A more thorough explanation of Marathe's "quadruple agency," is given at Footnotes 40, 41, and 42, page 995.
Conversations with Helen (Hugh) Steeply
These exchanges between Marathe and Steeply provide a different, if more static, plot thread which David Foster Wallace uses to examine human emotion and anxiety from a new perspective, one that is separate from the main characters and action, but is nonetheless essential to understanding and appreciating the ideas that Wallace puts forth. They often disagree, which is beneficial to readers, encouraging more critical and independent thought about whatever it may be that Marathe and Steeply are discussing. Topics include love, addiction and abusable escape, television, American culture, irony and several more related concepts.
- Pages 87-92,93-95, 97. 30 April YDAU: Marathe meets Steeply on a rocky outcropping just outside Tucson, Arizona. No reference is made, on purpose, as to how Marathe got up there in his wheelchair. Marathe is armed, and Steeply, a natural man, answers to Helen and is dressed in female clothing: a humorously pathetic drag queen. They discuss the appearance of "The Entertainment," the lethal video cartridge, and whether or not the A.F.R. has anything to do with it. Reference is made to Avril Incandenza, who was involved sexually with the medical attaché that fell victim to the cartridge. Also mentioned is Rodney Tine, the Chief of Unspecified Services and mastermind behind the formation of O.N.A.N., and one Luria Perec, who he (Tine) fell in love with. Luria Perec had attachments to the pan-Canadian resistence, which cast doubts on Tine's loyalty. Then they stand and watch the sun go down.
- Pages 105-108. YDAU: Steeply discusses Rodney Tine's love for Luria, relating to classic, "timeless love." Marathe argues with him, although Marathe's quadruple agency shows that he clearly is familiar with deep, full commitment to another person. Talk about "worship," a frequent Wallace theme. Marathe argues that love comes from choice, for Steeply says: "What if you just love? Without deciding? You just do: you see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love?" and Marathe then says: "you are a fanatic of your desire, a slave to your individual subjective narrow self-sentiments... In such a case as this you become the slave who believes he is free." This whole exchange, especially given the argument format, is valuable in considering human emotion, and its power over one's rationality.
- Pages 126-127. 30 April YDAU: They determine that Boston, MA is the likely origin of The Entertainment. And, in telling critique of American culture, "Several times Marathe called U.S.A. to Steeply 'You walled nation' or 'Your murated nation.' Although the United States Marathe knows is quite different from ours, the idea of a 'walled nation' is a common jab from foreign critics.
- Pages 317-321 30 April/ 1 May YDAU: Marathe accuses the USA of being a nation which would choose The Entertainment, or love of oneself, over love of another. He claims that it would bring the entire USA down, continuing his condemnation of the type of people, the type of culture, that prevails in America. David Foster Wallace also
The Train Game
Footnote 304, pages 1055-1062 explains the details of the train-jumping game.