Study Guide

Ash Wolf in The Interestings

By Meg Wolitzer

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Ash Wolf

Ash is the girl everybody loves, especially the random guys at camp that never actually speak to her. The book itself sometimes seems obsessed with her beauty and sensitive talent, and the people in the world of the book are equally so. She's the untouchable princess character, Ethan's "unbearably gorgeous Snow White" (10.1652), the perfect child of the perfect family.

Except she's not. Not only is Ash pretty self-absorbed throughout her life, she's also wildly hypocritical—even Jules, who basically worships at the altar of Ash, wants to call her out on it at one point. A few choice examples:

  • She claims she's going to dedicate her life to being a feminist… but then immediately labels Cathy a crazy liar when it comes to her claim she's been raped instead of looking at the evidence. 
  • She tells Jules to fess up about knowing Dennis's past… but hides the Goodman thing from Ethan until they're pretty old. And even then, it only comes out by accident.
  • Ash cheats on Ethan.

For someone who everyone fawns over, Ash really isn't anything to write home about—well, except for if you want to write a letter of complaint, we suppose.

In her defense, though, Ash changes big time when she has kids. She rises to the challenge of parenting Mo, going out of her way to socialize him, take him to special classes, and generally invest in his future. And so though Ash messes up a bunch, we're not saying she's a terrible person—not by any means. Her love for Jules, Ethan, and her family is very real. What we are saying, is that she expects a certain kind of response and behavior out of other people when they're around her, and when she doesn't get it, well, she just might kick you out of her house like she does to Jules.

While this is all important to understand when it comes to Ash's character, it's also important to note that it tells us a good deal about Jules. We talk in depth about her problems with envy and jealousy on her page in this section, and Ash's reliable fallibility—her clear unworthiness of being worshipped—really highlights how shallow Jules's adoration is. Jules doesn't envy a good person, but one who messes up big time, over and over again, making it clear that what Jules really wants is Ash's wealthy lifestyle. And that doesn't look good on Jules, not at all.

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