Study Guide

The Interestings Chapter 6

By Meg Wolitzer

Chapter 6

  • At last we get a Jonah chapter, and it looks like it'll explain his mysterious childhood.
  • Enter Barry Claimes, of the folk group the Whistlers, who sort of dated Jonah's mom occasionally.
  • At age eleven, Jonah already shows some talent for playing guitar and making up strange little songs about toast—Barry recognizes Jonah's talent immediately and they become friends through music.
  • Barry takes Jonah to his house one day and tries to get him to make up more little songs for the guitar.
  • Jonah gets nervous, though, and can't play, but he likes the attention so he comes back the next day.
  • Barry is weirdly intense about getting Jonah to eat a piece of gum before he plays guitar.
  • Jonah starts messing around on the guitar and suddenly notices the walls seem like they're breathing.
  • Jonah doesn't realize it yet, but we can obviously see that he was drugged. Dramatic irony for the win (or the lose, as the case may be when it comes to Jonah).
  • Jonah thinks he's schizophrenic and Barry convinces him to make up some more lyrics.
  • Because he's high as a kite, Jonah starts imitating Barry's voice until Barry suggests he sing something about Vietnam.
  • Jonah makes up a pretty sad song about dying in Vietnam right on the spot, which Barry records.
  • For his part, Jonah continues to wig out and ends up crying on Barry's floor.
  • Barry drives him home and tells him he's just a creative person with vision—oh, and also to, you know, not tell his mom about what happened.
  • Jonah's relationship with his mom is pleasant but not close. He spent a lot of time alone as a kid, and apparently has some strong skill in building machines.
  • Susannah, Jonah's mom, wrote a song about him that earned a bunch of money and paid his way through MIT.
  • Bummer alert: The drug experience with Barry wasn't just a one-time thing, and he did it to Jonah consistently for a while.
  • Jonah never told anyone about his jam sessions with Barry, and his mother just thought it was a good thing that he had a kind of father figure.
  • Jonah, however, saw Barry as more of a selfish deity to be pleased—apparently Barry got huffy whenever Jonah didn't want to play music for him.
  • When Jonah is twelve, he finally understands that what's been happening to him is not just creativity.
  • He checks out Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception to learn about psychotropics, and is totally—and correctly—convinced he has been fed drugs.
  • Jonah makes a list of all the foods he's eaten at Barry's (including the time he licked a stamp) that were given to him before he started hallucinating.
  • Turns out that Jonah has lingering effects from the drugs and is pretty much going crazy. Thanks for nothing, Barry.
  • Susannah goes on tour and Jonah stays home, getting badgered via phone by Barry.
  • Eventually Barry stops calling, and then one day Jonah hears his Vietnam song on the radio from Barry's album.
  • Jonah has flashbacks for a while over his song being stolen and his mind being warped by drugs.
  • Fast-forward to Jonah on that first day of the Interestings' reunion and we learn that Jonah has liked boys since the first grade.
  • Jonah doesn't share his sexuality with his friends from camp and doesn't want a music career. He does, however, get high with his camp friends, despite his bad past with drugs.
  • Jonah has a brief moment where he looks at his mother in the dining room on his way out and notices how she's getting older.
  • Curiously, Jonah doesn't blame his mother for not protecting him from Barry because he was the one that refused to tell her what was going on.
  • Ooh—Jonah's mom is still friends with Barry and that time she came to camp with him was the first time Jonah had seen him in years.
  • Now we're at the moment of their entrance into the Labyrinth and Jonah is unimpressed with the Wolfs' house-full of objects.
  • The group splits up into pairs and heads off to various rooms; Jonah is paired with Ash even though he's gay because they're both delicately beautiful.
  • This girl-crush thing often happens to Jonah because of his looks, and for whatever reason he's okay with it.
  • Ash and Jonah kiss for a long time and Jonah finds it boring and safe.
  • They leave Ash's room and notice Cathy and Goodman have gone off to Goodman's room and are probably "going all the way" (6.88).
  • Out in the living room, the Jules/Ethan pair isn't doing anything remotely sexual—instead, they're playing the board game Trouble.
  • A stupid song pops into Jonah's head and it makes him think of Barry, which is super disturbing to him.
  • Jonah wonders if he is Ash's boyfriend now and decides that all he really wants to do is fall asleep next to her.