Study Guide

You Should Have Known Chapter Eighteen: Christmas in the Shtetl

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Chapter Eighteen: Christmas in the Shtetl

In this edition of the book, Chapter 18 is pages 300-319.

  • Grace goes inside and sees her dad and Henry on the sofa with a hearty fire going.  
  • Frederich says he got there an hour ago and temporarily gave Henry his portable DVD player, equipped with a science fiction movie from "one of the kids" (18.301). 
  • Grace is doubly annoyed because her father only has one kid, and the only thing she dislikes more than kids who are obsessed with sports are kids obsessed with science fiction. 
  • It's weirdly reassuring to see Grace's judgmental side pop out again.  
  • Frederich says he missed them and should have asked if he could come. 
  • Grace says she should have called, but they've been living like recluses.  
  • Grace realizes her dad seems to have aged several years in the last few weeks. 
  • Grace starts to unload her Price Chopper groceries, but the fridge is already stocked. 
  • Her dad brought a feast of her favorite comfort foods from the Jewish market. Awww.  
  • In another classic dad move, Frederich gives her a pep talk about how tough she and Henry are and how they'll get through this. 
  • He asks how she's adjusting, and she says she's been pretty lonely. Apparently, Vita called him and asked where Grace was. He's surprised she hasn't heard from her, but the phone's disconnected.  
  • Papa Reinhart wishes they weren't living quite so off the grid, but Grace likes the stillness.  
  • He asks her about her book, and she says it's not happening. Nobody needs to tell her that. 
  • "I'm a marriage counselor whose husband had a mistress. He might have killed his mistress" (18.308). 
  • Papa Reinhart speaks for all of us when he says, "Might have?" 
  • Grace says she just can't go past that right now. 
  • Frederich reveals that Jonathan came to him in May for money.
    • (Note: Dr. Dishonest had already been unemployed for two months.)
    • Jonathan told him they were worried about affording Henry's school but Grace would never ask him to help.
    • Frederich said he was fortunate to be able to help his only grandson and gave Jonathan $100,000.
    • As O'Rourke would say, "Yowza."
  • Grace says she's so sorry. They were financially fine, and that money might have been for Rearden tuition, but it wasn't Henry's. 
  • She tells him Jonathan was also paying the bills for Miguel, and headmaster Robert believed he and Grace were his benefactors because Miguel was a cancer survivor. 
  • Now it's Frederich's turn to say he's so sorry. He can't believe he let Jonathan do this to her. 
  • Grace realizes that maybe her dad did want to be close all those years.  
  • He says he was happy to give her something because she never wanted anything from him. 
  • Grace says she wanted lots of things, but she had all of them. "Wanting what you have is supposedly the secret of happiness. Somebody said that, I forget who" (18.311). 
  • Note: It was Rabbi Hyman Schachtel
  • Henry appears and comments on how the sci-fi movie he's been watching is so weird and confusing. He and Frederich set the table and talk about sports. 
  • After dinner, Frederich asks Grace if she does know where Jonathan is. She says she would have told the cops if she did. 
  • Frederich is surprised Jonathan has managed to stay undetected for so long with how connected technology is these days. 
  • Dad asks Grace if she knows where J is. She says no and she definitely would have told the cops if she did. Dad says he's surprised J is managing it with how connected everything is these days. 
  • Grace has thought about this too and says Jonathan might have already had a plan for how to disappear in place. 
  • Grace tells her dad that she was inspired by how strong her parents' marriage was, and she tried to emulate their example because she wanted to be happy like them.  
  • Frederich starts crying, and it's not the happy kind.  
  • He tells her they weren't happy, especially not her mother. He tried to be, and when he couldn't be happy with Marjorie, he tried to be happy with other people.  
  • All the gaudy jewelry was his way of apologizing to her mother, but she felt like it was a scarlet letter and never wore it. 
  • Grace says they should have been in therapy, but Frederich says that didn't seem like an option for them. 
  • He just wanted to leave, and he asked Marjorie for a divorce but she said no.  
  • After Grace went to college, he asked again and she considered it, but then she had a stroke.  
  • Grace says that knowing all of this makes her incredibly sad, and her dad agrees. 
  • He says he wanted more kids. He loved being a father and watching her learn things. 
  • "But you just looked and looked at something, and I used to say to your mother, ‘There's a lot going on in there. She looks at everything.' Looks at everything. Grace thought. And sees nothing" (18.317). 
  • Frederich says he's upset to know that Grace thought he and her mother had the idea marriage, and he should have talked to her a long time ago. 
  • Grace says she should have insisted on it since it's a teenager's job to criticize their parents.  
  • She "must have thought she was above all that" (18.317-318). What a shock. 
  • She asks her dad if she can have their wedding china. She wants Henry to feel connected to things that don't remind him of Jonathan. 
  • "‘I want to have a past to give to Henry. I don't need it to be perfect, just to be real.' And it occurred to her, as she heard these things spoken aloud, that she was a tiny bit closer to being almost ready for that herself" (18.319).

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