The End.

The End.

“And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand,
and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out.”

There is a definite plus to reading a book that was published almost twenty years ago – the internet is an abundance of writings, thoughts, arguments and analysis done by countless other readers before us. And, like in so many other subjects, we are only strengthened by the knowledge of those who have come before, whose knowledge was also strengthened by those who came before, etc etc.

But there is also the desire to figure it out for yourself.  I am of the mind that we as a group should speak first of our own reflections, thoughts, feelings, and then maybe move into a larger discussion that can harness the power of the internet to refute, support or enhance our ideas.  What say you?

So let’s recap (for one last time!) the last 100 pages of Infinite Jest.

November 20 – Rodney Tines Jr and Sr meet with Glad Bag rep and Tom Veals

Better tested than the No Thankee Hankee, Fully Functional Phil the Prancing Ass, has been developed to warn kids of the impending Entertainment crisis.  This section serves to warn us that the Entertainment is on the loose, and being taken very seriously by O.N.A.N.

Gately continues his hospital stay right til the very end

A large portion of the end of the book takes place in Gately’s hospital room, and in flashbacks to his time spent crewing with Fackleman and Kite.  I loved the extended dream of the Pakistani doctor and Francis that ends with Don grabbing the doc by the balls to stop him from offering any more drugs.

We also see the gruesome retribution laid on Fackleman for his fatal decision to take the mistaken football bet and build a mountain of Dilaudid, are introduced to Pamela Hoffman-Jeep (who could be played easily by Natasha Leggero), and are reunited with Bobby C &  Poor Tony of the “red leather fags” (p. 129).

At one point, Gately has a mirror dream (vision?) to Hal’s comment from early in the book:

“I think of John N.R. Wayne, who would have won this year’s WhataBurger, standing watch in a mask as Don Gately and I dig up my father’s head” (p. 16)

“He dreams he’s with a very sad kid and they’re in the graveyard digging some dead guy’s head up and it’s really important, like Continental Emergency important, and Gately’s the best digger but he’s wicked hungry, like irresistibly hungry, and he’s eating with both hands out of a huge economy-size bags of corporate snacks so he can’t really dig, while it gets later and later and the sad kid is trying to scream at Gately that the important thing was buried in the guy’s head and to divert the Continental Emergency to start digging the guy’s head up before it’s too late, but the kid moves his mouth but nothing comes up, and Joelle van D. appears with wings and no underwear and asks if they knew him, the dead guy with the head, and Gately starts talking about knowing him even though deep down he feels panic because he’s got no idea who they’re talking about, while the sad kid holds something terrible up by the hair and makes the face of somebody shouting in panic: Too Late.” (p. 934).


I really think this is the ‘true’ end of the novel, it’s just not at the end of the book. It is the moment that connects us to the action that happened outside of the end of the book, and projects us into the future, where the book begins. But it still leaves many unanswered questions, namely:

  1. If JOI killed himself in a microwave oven, and considering when Hal describes the felo de se as akin to the “equivalent in to over two sticks of TNT” and asks Orin “Do you know you have to cut the potato open before you turn the oven on?” (p. 251), how could he even have a head?
  2. In Hal’s thought, John Wayne is there (in a mask) and in Don’s Joelle is there (in wings). Why the disparity?
  3. I know it sounds trite, but does Joelle in wings signify she is dead/a wraith?
  4. If it is too late, someone has gotten there before. Who would that be? The AFR?

At the end of Gately’s flashback, and the end of the book, he is pumped full of Sunshine while Fackleman is slowly killed, and then he is dumped on the beach, where he comes to.

Brief Connections
As an aside,the yrstruly section where we first meet C (&  experience the moment of his death) connects us to Stokely Darkstar (“don’t share Stokely Darkstar’s works don’t use works off of Stokely Darkstar no matter how sick you are” – p. 129), who JOI used in the brutal film Accomplice! as the AIDS-ridden prostitute, that Mario and Coyle are watching on pages 942-947.  I am not going to read too much into the fact that Cosgrove Watt, the other actor in the film, frequently plays the loose role of JOI in his films. Ok I am – do you think JOI was gay, and maybe that was why Avril had so many affairs?

Also, Gately is watching Orin’s game (described as “The B.U. punter”)on New Year’s Even before standardized time (P. 916) – likely the same game Gentle was watching when he came up with the idea  for standardized time.

And we get details maybe on how the Entertainment was unknowingly lifted from the robbery of  M. DuPlessis by Kite and then brought to the Antitois by Sixties Bob,  who traded for “60s related shit nobody else’d even usually want” (p.927). This matches the Antitois description of the man he bartered for “an antique blue lava-lamp and a lavender-tinged apothecary’s mirror for eighteen unexceptional-looking and old lozenges the long-haired person had claimed in a jumble of West-Swiss-accented French were 650 mg. of a trop-formidable harmful pharmaceutical…as well as a kitchen-can waste bag filled with crusty old mossy boot-and-leg Read Only cartridges, sans any labels” (p. 482). There are still many odd pieces to this, including the “West-Swiss accented French” of the old hippie – would Sixties Bob be Quebecois? His last name is Monroe. This would also mean 60s Bob had been in possession of the DMZ, called  tu-sais-quoi (the “you-know-what”).

As Gately and Fackleman sink into a Dilaudid stupor, the film that plays over and over again sounds like JOI’s Various Small Flames. (p. 935).

At ETA, Hal spends more time laying on his back, everyone gets ready for the Gala during the blizzard

Hal seems to be loosing his competitive spirit – “It now lately sometimes seemed like a kind of black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit” (p. 900),.

Pemulis has “some really important interfacing to do” with Hal (p. 907), but we are never party to it. He wants to speak with Hal about the DMZ, again referred to  as “tu-savez-quoi”  and Hal dismisses him. We never find out if they have that conversation, which I imagine is about Pemulis losing the DMZ from the ceiling tiles (p. 916).

We learn that Hal has known all along of Avril’s dalliances (p. 957).

The section that describes the scene as the ETA students get ready is not in Hal’s voice, as he is mentioned in the third person, so who is talking? With the laundry list of names mentioned, we could probably do a process of elimination, but I digress. Because are some of the kids DEAD? When the rumor comes that the Quebecois players are in fact adult and wheelchair bound, a couple kids go to check it out and never return (p. 965).

One of the first things I thought when I realized that the end was only a few pages away and that nothing that I considered ‘traditional’ plot was going to get resolved was: Why did DFW spend three of the very dozen pages left telling us about Barry Loach and his lapsed priest of a brother? Of course, it’s not like those pages were going to be spent clarifying what happened to Hal, Orin, Avril, Pemulis, or any of the other characters that were still alive by the end, but it maddened me none the less. We do learn about the terrible sauna accident (p. 971), which @Darcy, I recall you pointing out may have been the demise of Lyle.

Joelle is brought in for questioning by Steeply

The last we see of Joelle in the novel, she is warned by Steeply that she is in “mind-boggling danger” (p. 934) and then next scene she is under technical interview by Steeply (whose methods are much more benign than the AFRs), that confirms more details about the Entertainment, gives us fair assurance that she is indeed scarred by acid – “I used to go around saying the veil was to disguise lethal perfection” (p. 940) – and that the Master was buried with James.

After she leaves the interview, she returns to Ennet House, to warn Pat about the wheelchairs, and “doesn’t’ see it til she cleared the Shed, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s car…” (p. 958). Something terrible has happened at Ennet House, though the “uniform at the wheel absently feeling his face” makes it seem like the event has happened a while ago, as the police are not necessarily bustling around. I assume Marathe has done something to get his hands on the cartridges in Pat’s office….

.. and yet, we are right back at Ennet House for the interface between Pat and the ADA (p. 960-964). So who knows.

Orin is inside a giant glass tumbler

The AFR are really creative with their technical interviews. As the roaches pour in, Orin screams “Do it to her! Do it to her!” Is he referring to Joelle and inferring that she knows the whereabouts of the Master? Or Avril?  There are a few very tangential reasons the AFR believe Orin may be responsible for disseminating the Entertainment (mostly due to the locales the packages are sent from and the target’s connections to Avril). I don’t know what to think.

Now, these are all ‘just’ plot points, and while they are fun and frustrating to get straight, there are obviously larger conversations to be had about the themes of the novel as well.

How did IJ make you feel and think about the nature of families, of addiction, how we communicate, our pursuit of happiness?


  1. Johanna Schwartz

    [Reposting a week twelve comment from @MFleury and my reply here, as it was noted it may contain spoilers, and is better suited for discussion here in week thirteen]..

    NO spoiler alert, but I did finish reading the book last week as I’ll be out of the country until mid September. (so disappointed that I won’t receive my sticker in person…)
    But seriously, thanks Johanna for organizing this and being such a great moderator. I never would have read this book without the Infinite Summer YYC format.

    Any other English majors hung up on Freytag’s 5 parts of plot structure? Maybe I’m too much of a “resolution of conflict” kind of reader. I will miss some of the characters, but I also missed some sort of denouement. It could be that the book failed me, as DFW explained in this 1996 interview:

    “There’s an ending as far as I’m concerned. Certain kind of parallel lines are supposed to start converging in such a way that an ‘end’ can be projected by the reader somewhere beyond the right frame. If no such convergence or projection occurred to you, then the book’s failed for you.”

    Look forward to reading final comments after Sept. 5.

    @Johanna Schwartz
    Congrats on finishing early! I am really happy that this format helped. It has been such an experience to even have one other person to talk about never mind the great group that has come together here. There are some (or many) essays on the end of IJ, and some cool graphs that I’ll share next week that speak to this projection beyond the frame that DFW speaks about. The lack of denoument has been a sore point for many readers and critics, but there is definitely a deliberateness to the ending that we could spend another 13 weeks talking about I am sure

  2. I was a lurker – mainly because I was a week behind everyone – a work colleague and I set out to *finally* read IJ this summer and we started a week later than this group. What does it say about this book that 2 weeks after putting it down I’m still, obsessively, thinking about it and that every other book I pick up seems trite and not worth my time? It’s like when a relationship ends and you think you’ll never fall in love again; but time usually heals that and I suppose it will heal this as well. It’s maddening that the main action in this book – whatever happened to Hal – takes place offstage but I suppose its freeing as well in that the reader is left to imagine what it was, the DMZ, the film, the mold. All I can say is thank goodness for the internet which allows us to “discuss” the book with other interested parties since I could never convince my book club (or family members) to read this book but I would burst if I had nobody to discuss it with. Thanks everyone for your thoughts and thanks to Johanna for organizing!

  3. And but so, even though this was the third time for me, I still don’t get a lot of it. I could see the “parallel plot lines” coming together, but I really don’t see a very clear ending, other than Hal’s wordless expression of “too late!” It seems enigmatic that the dream sequences and Joelle’s speech refer to the master being buried with JOI or in his head, but it was also clear that he didn’t have a head when buried. I took the dreams as being an allegory for JOI keeping the Master “in his head” and taking it to the grave with him, but, then, someone had a master in order to be sending copies to all these people…right?

    One thing really bugs me…What about Mario? It was said that Mario ended up being closer to JOI than both Hal and Orin, that he was in on all the editing of the later film projects, so did anyone see any connection to him and the entertainment? It seems to me like a key to the story that everyone, including me, misses.

    I think DFW intended this book to be fun. For people like me it is fun to read a book that is so intricate and convoluted and multi-layered that your head keeps trying to work it out long after you’ve finished reading, and that’s what I like – the idea that this guy wrote something that has changed something in my brain that I can’t even describe. It first happened to me with Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and to a certain extent with Heller’s Catch-22. I haven’t read GR in about 20 years, so maybe I’ll try that again next. “A screaming comes across the sky…”

    Thanks for the privilege of being part of this group, I’ve enjoyed the discussions and hope to have a few more.

    • Johanna Schwartz

      Mario. Keeper of secrets, touchstone of almost every significant character. He never connects the dots that Madame Psychosis is the same woman his father filmed, but he must recognize her voice? And if he truly wrote both the O.N.A.N.tiad and “Tennis and the Feral Prodigy” he is not only emotionally intelligent but academically smart as well. There were moments when I felt Mario could be our true narrator.

      And then, there is DFW’s essay “The Nature of Fun” (which has been published in Both Flesh and Not) that opens:

      “The best metaphor I know of for being a fiction writer is in Don DeLillo’s “Mao II,” where he describes a book-in-progress as a kind of hideously damaged infant that follows the writer around, forever crawling after the writer (dragging itself across the floor of restaurants where the writer’s trying to eat, appearing at the foot of the bed first thing in the morning, etc.), hideously defective, hydrocephalic and noseless and flipper-armed and incontinent and retarded and dribbling cerebo-spinal fluid out of its mouth as it mewls and blurbles and cries out to the writer, wanting love, wanting the very thing its hideousness guarantees it’ll get: the writer’s complete attention.”

      Now, the bulk of this description may better describe Marathe’s wife than Mario, but maybe Mario can be loosely read as a metaphor for the act of writing the book itself? And yet, he is also given a stoicism and depth that suggests DFW did attempt to give the book his complete attention.

      • Really like the last conversation between Mario and Hal.

        Obviously, the book isn’t all just about fun. The common thread seems to be addiction in all its various forms and its relation the modern culture and human experience. I haven’t read that many essays or interpretations, so forgive me if I’m being kind of naive or dumb about this. I can’t stop thinking about DFW’s death and all the things he said about the inner journey, anhedonia, depression, etc, in this book. I’ve read the David Lipsky book (What do you think of them making a movie of that? Would it really be that entertaining to the general public???), and I couldn’t help but feel like DFW was a bit disappointed that there seemed to be so few people who kind of “got” what he was trying to say.

        Once again, forgive me if this sounds idiotic – but I’m just a few years older than DFW and I come from the same part of the country and had a lot of similar influences and experiences and interests. He described himself as a “library rat” or nerd or geek or something, he had a fascination with altered states and addiction, not just to alcohol or drugs but also to television and sports and entertainment. It occurred to many people in my generation, as far back as the 60’s and 70’s, that broadcast television was becoming a vast, addictive, mind-warping social device for controlling people’s behavior, and that someone would eventually figure out a way to weaponize it.

        Anyway, I understand that some people are put off by the complexity and excessive verbiage, but I connect profoundly with DFW’s ability to show how people are so much more than they seem on the surface, how everyone needs something, a substance or an activity or an obsession or a vocation, to project their own unique personality into the world. Once again, I refer you to endnote 321.

        One more thing: In my mind, I picture the actor Mike Starr playing Don Gately in the (not possible) movie version of IJ. He’s too old now, of course, but the way he looked in the Ed Wood movie. Who could possibly play Mario?

  4. First off, I really want to thank Johanna for putting this together. Fantastic work and I’m so grateful to have had a guide and a small community while reading this. Holy Hell, I can’t believe you’ve read this book multiple times because it is a doozy.

    The first thing I did when I finished was google, “What happened at the end of Infinite Jest”. I then read a bunch of commentary about it and realized that my mind was just not even going in the figure-out-the-plot direction, it just sort of assumed (totally underestimating DFW, stupidly) that it was a postmodern thing where plot isn’t important or maybe even remotely discernible, etc. So I was pretty blown away at some of the theories relating to plot. I liked knowing about them but I’m not sure they contributed to my understanding or enjoyment of the book. And I’m not convinced any of them are 100% correct, or that there is meant to be an unequivocal plot (thought I’m probably underestimating again).

    Absolutely I think they best part of reading is being inside the smart person’s head and enjoying the writing, as mentioned previously. IJ was such an immersive experience for me, which was difficult at times given the grimness of a lot it. But the language is so rich and original and that you just feel enveloped in a complete world that wasn’t even built for you as a reader, but is real and heartbreaking and so incredibly clever. For a while after finishing I just sort of marinated in the whole thing. I couldn’t bring myself to read anything else, which is rare for me (for those of you wondering what you should read coming off of IJ I would NOT recommend- and this is real embarrassing to admit – The Time Traveler’s Wife. Jesus).

    A way I often think about books I’ve read is what papers I could write about them. IJ could yield a million but a few things I thought of; the use of language as both an immersive tool and an attempt at creating a faithful representation of the world; physical deformities as metaphor; unreliable narration and whether it’s meant to evoke the impossibility of knowing or representing a narrative or “objectivity’; the lack of narrative pity in the book given that it’s essentially a tragedy about many people’s incredibly trying lives; the disconnect between the personal and political, despite the main plot device. I mean, god I could go on. I didn’t think so much about the entertainment aspect, which is major. I was also interested in the relationship between drug use, entertainment, and escapism.

    I don’t know what to finish this post because I doubt I’ll ever stop thinking about this book. It makes numerous other books seem so trite or pretentious (i.e. so many authors try so hard to be smart but fail compared to DFW in my opinion and it’s so obvious). So as I ease back into the academic year I’m very grateful for my summer reading, though also worried about enjoying reading in the near future (a major concern because I spend a fair amount of my life reading!) since I’m still stuck in the infinite loop of this book.

    One last question, which is about a random plot connection. I think it stuck in my head because Johanna wrote about it. Remember the teaser about how when Hal visits Ennet House and there’s some comment made about how in light of happened in the future he would be remembered. What was that all about? Anyone?

    • Johanna Schwartz

      Thank you Adrienne for all of the thoughtful comments you brought to the group.

      After finishing IJ I chose to read Haruki Murakami’s new one, Colorless Tsukuru Takazaki, and it fell so flat in comparison. It made me acutely aware of how beautifuly real, broken, humanizing DFW’s characterizations were. Now I am reading The Stand 🙂

      It was only after multiple reads that I became aware of some of the plot ‘resolutions’ (if you want to call them that), which only provoked me to believe that the answer(?) to every plot thread is in there somewhere, even if it’s most likely a throw-away line in the midst of a completely different section. But of course, so many threads of the novel are never resolved – by anti-confluential design “characterized by a stubborn and possibly irrationally irritating refusal of different narrative lines to merge into any kind of meaningful confluence”

      And but so I do not have an answer to your question about Johnette’s statement at Ennet House. Maybe it is connected to Joelle’s return to Ennett and the police that are there? Did Hal come back? Did his final breakdown happen at Ennett? Maybe that is how he and Joelle (and later Don) meet.

      I like your point about the lack of narrative pity, because though DFW can drum up pathos like the best of them, he allows the space around his characters to be ragged, rough and real. The last AA speaker is a perfect example of that.

  5. Nick Parish

    I’m in the opposite camp to Denise, I loved this book and found the inconsistencies and unresolved elements totally enthralling, and I’ll be thinking about it for a very long time. Man. So good.

    Reading the Swartz interpretation I wonder if there was extra book that just got woppsed (wopsed? it’s both ways in the Kindle edition) up and thrown in the wastebasket.

    • Johanna Schwartz

      Adam Swartz’s “What Happened at the End of Infinite Jest” was the first synopsis I ever read about IJ. I never connected that site to the story I read in the news about the hacker who killed himself.

      His theory is interesting: JOI’s wraith dosed Hal’s toothbrush with the DMZ stolen from Pemulis as part of a larger effort (combined with the Entertainment) to get Hal to become human again after he ate the mold as a young child.

      I have at LEAST a half-dozen questions about this that I will formulate soon, because right now I have to go home and get ready to take my man out for his birthday dinner.

      We are going to eat a five course meal of molecular gastronomy on a cooking oil-fueled ferris wheel at a science, art and technology festival called Beakerhead.

      And it’s a bloody miracle it is happening because on Sunday the temperature was 26 C (80 F), then it dropped to 0 C (32F) and our lovely city got a three-day snow storm of between 6-9 inches of snow. Today it is sunny and 8C (46F) so that is good enough for me! And by Monday it will be back to seasonal 22 C (70F).

      I am enjoying reading everyone’s responses, and will be sending out info about a live chat soon!

  6. Hi all.

    I very much like how Ev phrased it. IJ – “a lot of fun to spend so much time inside a very smart person’s head” “enjoy all the words, one beautiful sentence at a time”. I’m not sure I need to nail the plot down and it seems, from all the analysis/commentary/debate on the ‘net, that nobody really has.

    I sense DFW chose to leave the novel ‘open ended’ in order to provide years of discussion for readers… i.e. infinite jest. It is as if the novel itself is the Entertainment (both titled IJ)… view/read it and you just might be hooked for life.

  7. Ev Maverick

    Hi Johanna & all,

    This has likely been pointed out before, but plot point wise, it’s neat to have a look at the late Aaron Swartz’s Guide. He & a few friends definitely picked up on a LOT of em.

    I’m not sure if all the pieces are there, but it’s certainly fun to think about.

    Re the bit about Barry Loach, I think it really ties into the book’s working title, A Failed Entertainment. It’s kind of a front to the reader. Because if it had happened any earlier in the book, it wouldn’t have felt maddening, (which it still sort of did, on my second time through.) You start reading about Barry Loach, and your brain goes, wait, how many pages are there left? Where is he going with this? This just REALLY isn’t all going to come together nicely, is it? And then you have to accept that it isn’t. And you have to stop racing toward the end, and instead just enjoy all the words, one beautiful sentence at a time.

    I remember trying to explain the plot of Infinite Jest to someone once, and said person asked me what the point of the book was, and we both kind of settled on the idea that it was just a lot of fun to spend so much time inside a very smart person’s head. Which it has been. It’s also been a lot of fun to read your summaries, Johanna, and also to read all the comments.

    I will post again about the themes, and oh there was some mention of some sort of talk happening somewhere in some form or another, I’m totes down for that.

    But for now, I just got in from seeing Swans, and I feel pummeled. Looking forward to reading more comments over the weekend!!

    • Johanna Schwartz

      The acceptance you talk about was the best part of the reading experience for me. I am a bit of a control freak, and struggled with the format at the beginning, wondering how I could be missing so much, re-reading sections over and over again. Then, like so many scales falling from my eyes, I realized I could put my trust in the book, and that the plot was secondary, or even tertiary to the experiential effects of the book – the narrative voices, the dark corners, the purposely often purposeless endnotes. And the beautiful sentences.

      Swans didn’t come through my town, but I know folks who drove 14 hours to Vancouver to see them.

  8. Denise Mamaril

    When I finished IJ (for the first –and what will be my only– time) earlier this week, I couldn’t even enjoy the sense of accomplishment because I was so angry. I know I’m going to be in the minority here, but I felt like the Infinite Jest was that he convinced all of us to give up so many hours of our lives reading this “masterpiece.” The lack of resolution of so many plot lines, the late introduction of additional characters, the abrupt ending–they all made the end completely unsatisfying for me. Perhaps if I had enjoyed the actual process of reading the book, I could forgive the structural issues I had with it, but I frequently found the reading disengaging and/or painful.

    That said, I really appreciate this group and all of you for helping me get through this. Now I don’t have to wonder whether I should read IJ…it is done.

    • Well I’m done, I think.
      Ev Maverick, the Swans and this book amount to a match made in … well they relate.
      Still can’t get over that I jumped into this during the U.S. Open, with balls bouncing and racquets thwacking as I attempted to concentrate (did not get out there however. Now that i live in New York, doing New York things, especially those involving heat and crowds and great expense seem somewhat less appealing). One point relating to the game is that before this year a book that serves up a plot somewhat based on the state of Canadian tennis would have seemed a bit looney but this year Open saw two angles from the North in Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic. The pretty, blonde and determined Bouchard surprised the world by reaching the Wimbledon finals but disappointed her province by lacking the ability to speak French or even affect the accent. Thus when she exited Flushing early there was no weeping in Quebec and hopefully few plots of retribution.
      Raonic is from Yugoslavia and Toronto. His extremely well groomed appearance reminded me of Hal. Raonic made the quarters but his helmet like hair got most of the notice and even rated its own twitter account. I am proud to state that @Milos_Hair follows me, apparently after listening in on my conversation with a Montreal woman who is not French but like many in her habitat has no use for the other Buffalo.
      In fact i am going to wind this up and watch the men’s finals, which are now mysteriously regularly scheduled for early Monday evenings. A Japanese guy is facing some guy who is not also not from Canada.
      As far as “Infinite Jest,” I enjoyed it and being in the group. Thank you Johanna for this essential wrap up and making sure we got our shares of Canadian content. Id love to be involved in such an effort again and would try to do better. THnks

      • Johanna Schwartz

        Ok Bill so where can we read your sports writing? I don’t give two figs about tennis and am completely engaged whenever you weigh in. Your comments have been fabulous to read. Thanks for being a part of the group!

    • Johanna Schwartz

      Thank you Denise for sticking through til the end, and for being honest about your response to the book. I think the process of reading IJ is deliberately obtuse (and painful to some), and mirrors what DFW felt about the process of writing as well. There is definite discomfort, but for me it was trumped by the joy I got from his ability to capture voice, for the ridiculously inventive future he saw, and for the humanizing effects of the stories of abuse survivors of all walks of life.