Study Guide

The Interestings Memory and The Past

By Meg Wolitzer

Memory and The Past

In The Interestings, the characters (especially Jules) spend so much time idealizing the past and reexamining memories that they can't recognize the truth anymore. Memory and the past are like snares in this book, holding characters hostage in the present and presenting big blind spots when it comes to personal understanding. The characters that feel happiest are the ones that don't dwell on the past but try to push through it when it gets all up in the present (like Dennis and Cathy). The rest, though, carry a pretty heavy burden with them.

Questions About Memory and The Past

  1. Why does Jules spend so much time on memories if she felt like an impostor when she was a kid? Does the past validate her in the present? Why or why not?
  2. What is it about the way Dennis deals with the past that makes him who he is? How does he hold the past differently than Jules? How about than Jonah?
  3. Is Ash trapped in the past? Does the reemergence of Goodman impact her relationship with the past at all? What does this tell you about her as a character?

Chew on This

Goodman is a symbol for the impossibility of moving forward without addressing the past.

Cathy is the only person who truly makes it in the end because she's the only person who resolves the past and leaves it there.