Hal Incandenza

Hal Incandenza

Infinite Jest

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About Him

Grew up… the youngest son of lexical legend Avril Incandenza and avant-garde filmmaker James Incandenza. While his parents are talented and successful, it is Himself (James’ nickname within the family) who is now much more famous. That’s mainly because his last film, "the Entertainment," turned to be so engrossing that all watchers literally lost the will to do anything else.

Living… with what remains of his family, at Enfield Tennis Academy (or E.T.A.). Founded by his father, Enfield is now run by Hal's mother, who oversees the academy as assiduously as she watches over her two sons there. With her husband dead, the Moms (Avril’s nickname within the family) is intent on keeping her family together, though it's kind of a moot point when she hasn't spoken to her oldest son in years.

Profession… student at Enfield. A prodigy both intellectually and athletically, Hal doesn't have much trouble excelling either on or off the court.

Interests… tennis, reading, and getting high. Kant, Shakespeare, The Oxford English Dictionary – it doesn't matter what it is, because chances are Hal's probably already read it. In his own words, "I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM-drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, 'The library, and step on it.'"

Relationship Status… single. Hal might be surrounded by hormonal teenagers, but he's "maybe the one male E.T.A. for whom lifelong virginity is a conscious goal."

Challenge… overcoming his inner demons. Like most 17-year-olds, Hal is often unsure of himself and his place in the world, and Hal's dysfunctional family dynamics have only fueled his adolescent alienation. Making matters worse is his drug use, which started out as recreation only to quickly become a much bigger problem.

Personality… intelligent and philosophical, but insecure. On the surface, Hal has everything going for him: smart, athletic, and eloquent; he's probably guaranteed a spot in any university in the world. But for all his talent, Hal often finds himself empty. At only 17, Hal seems to be already undergoing a mid-life crisis, often wondering how, "people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit, and could go on caring this way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it."

Hal Incandenza's popularity ranking on CharacTour is #3891 out of 5,600+ characters. See our top-ranked characters and read their profiles.

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