Amanda is the ambitious foil to her laidback professor husband. At the start of the novel, much of her self-worth stems from being indispensable at work. As a mother, Amanda is loving and protective, with a tendency to spoil her eldest, Archie. Although she has sexual fantasies about other men, she loves her middle-aged husband and appreciates the familiarity of a mature marriage. Amanda likes to be seen as moral, but she harbors racist and classist ideas that lead her to believe that Clay is gullible and afraid to stand up for himself when he doesn’t turn G. H. and Ruth away.  When it becomes obvious that G. H. and Ruth are wealthier than she and Clay are, Amanda is almost comically confused about how to interact with them, in contrast to Clay. 

Amanda’s skepticism about G. H. and Ruth comes into conflict with her desire to ingratiate herself with people who may be able to help her family get ahead. For example, when she learns that Ruth used to be in admissions at Dalton, an exclusive New York school, she immediately begins scheming about how to take advantage of the acquaintanceship. As Amanda goes through the motions of socializing with the Washingtons, she finds that she and Clay have much in common with the older couple, including their shared experience of past emergencies that bind them together as New Yorkers. As fear of the unknown begins to drown out all other considerations, Amanda finds herself turning to Ruth and G. H. for support, advice, and comfort. While part of her blames them for bringing the disaster into the house by turning up at the door, another part of her recognizes that the generosity of the Washingtons may be all that stands between her family and homelessness. By the time Amanda reaches the point where she is willing to sit naked in the hot tub in front of G. H., we know she has moved well beyond her racist fears and suspicions.