Study Guide

The Interestings Part 2: Figland / Chapter 10

By Meg Wolitzer

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Part 2: Figland / Chapter 10

  • Jump forward to 1984, ten years after that first summer at camp, where Ethan and Ash are having dinner in an exclusive Japanese restaurant with network big shots.
  • Ethan's show, Figland, was actually bought by a network and they built a new office so he could stay in New York. Fancy.
  • This meal is like, totally blowing Ethan's mind, but Ash is all cool about it.
  • Super uncomfortable in this restaurant, Ethan starts babbling even though he knows Ash hates it.
  • Flashback: We get a little background on what Ethan's been doing up until now—he worked on a nighttime cartoon for adults called The Chortles.
  • He ends up hating working on that show so much that he quits during an employee retreat to Hawaii.
  • Ethan is jobless and doodling Figland characters like a crazy man; meanwhile, Ash is assistant directing various weird, unpaid indie plays, and Jonah designs machines to make disabled people's lives easier.
  • This is apparently after Jules met and started dating Dennis, because he has now decided to go to ultrasound technology school.
  • Ethan still loves and wants Jules even though he's been with Ash forever.
  • We find out that Jules hasn't been able to make it in acting—and this isn't bum luck, her acting teacher actually asked her what on earth she was doing trying to be an actor. Ouch.
  • So whom does Jules call? Ethan, of course, and he talks her through her ordeal, and it sounds like Jules is making a career switch.
  • On the flip side, Ash is doing quite well as an actor, but wants to direct plays by and about women.
  • There's a weird moment where Ash thinks about all the things her mom could have done if she hadn't gotten married right away.
  • Ethan takes great pleasure in sharing a snack with Jules over the phone.
  • Jules mentions her plans to explore becoming a therapist in order to stop being so self-involved, and though Dennis believes in Jules's plans, she asks Ethan because he'll have a strong opinion.
  • His assessment? He likes talking to Jules, so he assumes other people would, too.
  • Jules enrolls in Columbia University's School of Social Work and actually does pretty well.
  • Gil calls up Ethan and invites him to a business lunch.
  • Fun fact: Ethan and Ash had a breakup period in college because Ash slept with someone else and then Ethan responded by trying to feel up Jules.
  • Ethan thinks the conversation with Gil will be about his daughter, but really it's about Ethan's career plans; Gil encourages Ethan to pitch Figland to the networks.
  • Ethan is also forced to look at some of Gil's own drawings, which are loving sketches of his kids that make them look like monsters.
  • Back to the Japanese restaurant in the 1984 present, where Ethan and Ash discuss how the talk went.
  • Apparently Ethan has turned down a number of opportunities in order to take care of Old Mo; he feels a sense of fulfillment that now he'll be able to do what he wants.
  • Ash and Ethan go home and have sex.
  • We get a momentary flashback to the start of the relationship from Ethan's point of view and how he didn't get it at first.
  • Back at that fateful summer, they shared long confessions about various things in their lives and Ash eventually invited him to her teepee; they shared a bed at camp that night while Ethan was thinking about being in the same room as Jules. Um…
  • Back to the present moment where Ethan and Ash lie in bed and talk about his fears that the show will be dumb.
  • Ash is obsessing over The Drama of the Gifted Child, which basically tells kids their narcissistic parents are damaging them.
  • There's a brief overview of Figland, which really sounds a lot like The Simpsons.
  • Ethan fantasizes that the show will tank, but refuses to leave New York if that happens. We guess we'll chalk that up to some kind of principles.
  • We get a little snippet of NY in the 1980s with its big homelessness problem and the lurking fear of the AIDS virus.
  • The group hears that Cathy got an MBA from Stanford and is working in finance. You go, girl.
  • Ethan refuses to ever leave New York because Ash's parents would hate to lose her as well as Goodman.
  • It's clear that Ash has never told Ethan about Goodman, and instead just changes the subject whenever he brings it up. Quality partnership, this one.
  • Ethan won't let the subject go and suggests getting a private detective to find Goodman.
  • Turns out that what Ethan really hates is the not knowing—but Ash tells Ethan that he's just torturing her with this and starts to cry. Point: Ash.

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