Study Guide

The Art of Fielding Inertia

By Chad Harbach


"He's only ever wanted to play baseball." (2.12)

If you don't know any other character trait about Henry, know this one—he only wants to play baseball. In fact, that might be his defining characteristic.

[Affenlight] thought he would do such things forever. (6.22)

Guert and Henry are kindred spirits, in a never-wanting-to-grow-up sort of way.

"If we're not first movers on this, then we're back in the pack. There's no PR in the pack. Might as well sit back and learn from their mistakes." (7.11)

College administration is slower than FEMA when it comes to environmental disasters. No one wants to take the initiative to make Westish a green campus, and the head of trustees, Bruce Gibbs, is steadily going nowhere.

Baseball—what a boring game! One player threw the ball, another caught it, a third held a bat. Everyone else stood around. (8.10)

Baseball is a slow game and the MLB knows it. In real-life, they tested out rules in 2014 to make the game faster.

"As long as he's at Westish, as long as he's a mess, then you're still running the show." (34.60)

Pella thinks that Mike wants Henry to remain the same. That whole jealousy issue of Mike's wouldn't be a problem if Henry stayed a failure, dependent on him.

"I'm fine," Henry said. Which was part of the problem: Henry always said he was fine. (36.9)

Some people might see this as a sign of calmness in Henry, but he's just so darn fine (and not in an attractive way) he comes across as an emotional flatline.

"What happened to KISS ME, I'M IRISH?" [Affenlight] asked, taking care to sound nonchalant. (38.8)

Once Guert Affenlight gets hold of Owen, he doesn't want anything to change, not even the mugs they use to drink their post-coital coffee from. Why is this? Is it because Affenlight knows that he isn't getting any younger?`

"I show up, we read and make small talk, we suck each other off, we smoke a cigarette, I leave. […] It's like a gay porn Groundhog Day." (40.41)

Owen, on the other hand, wants something to change. He's young enough to crave change. Although, maybe age has nothing to do with it. Henry is Owen's age, and he's no fan of change.

All [Henry had] ever wanted was for nothing to ever change. (54.12)

See what we mean? This quote goes beyond baseball to everything. Henry wants his life to always remain the same. Is that a realistic goal? What is Henry doing to achieve that, and will he succeed?

"You're sixty years old. Do you really want to live in a dorm for the rest of your life?" (57.25)

This quote seems to back up our earlier theory about Guert Affenlight wanting to preserve his youth. Why else would a grown man want to live like a college-aged frat bro?

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