Study Guide

The Interestings Chapter 12

By Meg Wolitzer

Chapter 12

  • In a cab on the way to the hospital, Jonah and Robert talk about what they heard Jules say.
  • Robert decides it's all futile based on the fact that so many of his friends have died, but Jonah says he still has some faith left over from when he was deprogrammed.
  • Segue into a flashback: Jonah reminisces about college.
  • Jonah compares his experience with acid as a kid to the experience of faith in God; he also notes how similar the experience was to having sex with a man for the first time.
  • It was easy for Jonah to come out as gay, but he still hasn't told anyone about the drug trips.
  • Every time Jonah is about to have sex he gets terrified and sick at being aroused because he feels like he's going to hallucinate.
  • Jump forward to when Jonah met Robert at a dinner party in 1986 at Jules's place.
  • Robert went to law school sometime before, and at the time of the party, is practicing AIDS-related law.
  • When Jonah describes his work in robotics for the disabled to him, Robert asks if it's fulfilling, and Jonah shares that he is still surprised at the turn his life has taken.
  • Robert and Jonah leave the party at the same time and Robert asks if he was flirting with him.
  • Apparently Robert can't tell if Jonah is gay or not, and Jonah says that's private.
  • Robert drives away on his motorcycle and comes back a second later to ask if Jonah has decided whether he's gay yet.
  • Jonah thinks it would be good to have sex with Robert because it would have to be controlled.
  • A week later, Robert comes over to Jonah's loft and they discuss what's possible between them.
  • Jonah is still nervous, though, so Robert calls up a hotline so Jonah can talk to an expert.
  • The expert, Chris, tells Jonah what's possible and safe, but ends up saying that zero risk would mean no sex.
  • Jonah is still freaked out and Robert reassures him they don't have to do anything.
  • Over time, Jonah and Robert get a sexual relationship going, though they're not particularly close emotionally.
  • Robert is busy trying to keep himself healthy while living with HIV, and Jonah envies Robert his calling that he's found at his law firm.
  • We move forward a year or so and find out Robert invited Jonah to a protest in D.C.
  • At the protest, Robert rescues Jonah from a crowd that threatens to crush him.
  • Back in the present, Jonah recalls sitting in another plastic-y room at the police station; he thinks about how Cathy was just cut out of the group and how much he admired her.
  • Meanwhile, Ethan is feeling like Dennis's condition is his fault because he arranged the dinner.
  • Turns out Dennis had a minor stroke from something he ate and the doctors took him off his meds. They recommend a different antidepressant now that they're better made.
  • Jules gets up to go fill out paperwork and Ethan tells her he'll take care of everything.
  • We abruptly flip back to Jonah's post-college days.
  • He is approached by a couple—Hannah and Joel—who strike up a casual conversation and ask if he knows where they can get water for their dog.
  • Jonah brings them to an MIT dorm to get water, and they start asking innocent questions about his life.
  • It's not clear whether this is happening in Jonah's head or what, but we suddenly get a memory of him playing in an MIT nerd band.
  • He also did very well in mechanical engineering but isn't particularly keen on any jobs.
  • Back with the strange couple, they ask him to explain vectors and seem really interested in everything Jonah has to say.
  • They invite him out to "the farm" and he declines.
  • When they get up to leave, though, Jonah's loneliness kicks in, so he impulsively decides to go with the weird couple in the purple van.
  • Jonah takes to the farm because it seems like a collection of people who are actually involved with each other's lives.
  • A guy in a wheelchair goes to the front of the room and preaches a ridiculous sermon that Jonah resists laughing at, and then someone hands Jonah a guitar while everyone sings some catchy songs and he plays for a small audience.
  • Jonah stays the night there and finally feels like he's in a family.
  • Susannah is furious when he tells her he's staying at this farm indefinitely.
  • She contacts his friends while he is there and tells them to do something, so Ash and Ethan arrange for a deprogramming.
  • Jules goes with them to visit Jonah at the farm and convince him to leave.
  • Jonah is pretty persuasive about wanting to be there, and asks Jules if she's ever felt that lonely.
  • He notices the way Ethan looks at Jules and announces that Ethan loves her. Awkward.
  • Some of the Moonies notice them arguing and try to make them leave.
  • Ethan tells Susannah it's time to take a trip into town to get her to go, but it's too late—Susannah is loved and valued at the farm and she's hooked.
  • The group leaves her there and convinces Jonah to go into town with them to get some ice cream.
  • Ethan doesn't stop in town and Ash and Jules hold Jonah down in the backseat while he cries.
  • They spend three days and nights deprogramming Jonah through sleep and food deprivation and negative testimonies from former members of the church.
  • Afterward, Jonah forgets most of what he learned there except when he saw how Ethan loves Jules.
  • Susannah stayed on the farm forever, even marrying a member of the church.