Study Guide

The Interestings Chapter 3

By Meg Wolitzer

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Chapter 3

  • Just as we closed with an envelope in Chapter 2, we open here with a strangely elaborate description of one.
  • Moments later, we learn that this is the same (or a similar) Christmas letter from Ash and Ethan.
  • Evidently Ash and Ethan bought a ranch in Colorado at some point, though they rarely live there.
  • We're introduced to Dennis, who is (judging by the "Jacobson-Boyd'" reference) Jules's husband.
  • Adult Jules is seemingly far bitterer about her friends than the young Jules that fell in love with them—to this end, Dennis and Jules have a ritual for reading the Christmas letter, and it involves wine.
  • The card that comes with the letter has a new "Ethan Figman drawing," which is said with such seriousness that it has to mean something important.
  • We learn that the Christmas letter is a long tradition of occasionally hokey letters from Ethan and Ash.
  • Jules and Dennis never write their own Christmas letter because they have nothing to tell (also, turns out their daughter, Rory, is sort of unimpressive).
  • Jules imagines the writing process for the letter and clearly has no idea how Ash and Ethan spend their money.
  • There's a strange bit here where Jules takes guesses about the level of friendship required to get a letter, and places herself among the closest.
  • The novel gives you the whole letter, which is pretty average as far as Christmas letters go.
  • In fast-forward: Ash directs plays, they have two kids, Ethan's show Figland has been on air for almost twenty-five years, and the couple is pretty insufferably perfect in general.
  • Jules drinks the whole bottle of wine and talks about how much more envious and grouchy she used to be when she heard about Ash and Ethan's life; Dennis appears to have been understanding about her jealousy for a very long time.
  • Jules eats what sounds like a really good chicken Dennis made, and thinks about how much better food would be at Ash and Ethan's place.
  • Jules then inwardly gripes about her kitchen floor with its grubby tiles.
  • Ever so graciously, Jules concedes that Ethan and Ash don't have everything, since they have a son with an autism-spectrum disorder.
  • Flashback to the time Jules went on a trip with Ash to get her son, Mo, diagnosed because Ethan couldn't go with her.
  • Ethan calls them while in the car and ends up asking Jules to stay with Ash as a kind of stand-in support while he's away.
  • Jules reassures Ash that everything will be okay because it's always okay in Ash's life.
  • Turns out that Mo has a specific diagnosis that still manages to be incredibly vague: a "pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified" (3.69).
  • There's another mysterious mention of Goodman's epic screw-up, which has yet to be explained.
  • The flashback ends, leaving Jules and Dennis curled up in bed in a poorly heated apartment while Jules imagines a perfect warm fire on Ethan and Ash's perfect ranch.

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