She has already hired a new girl to come and help with the housework, and she plans to send Mattie packing. Ethan's heart sinks as he imagines that Denis is on his way to the farm to meet Mattie. But Ethan made the drive. Set against the hollow countryside of New England, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton sets out to answer that question. The two women soon adjusted to each other sort of and things weren't as bad as they could have been.
He suggests that Jotham Powell, a man who helps out around the Frome farm, drive her to the train station. Zeena became more sickly and fussy as time passed, and their marriage has been loveless. Just after eleven, the two turn in for the night without so much as touching. When Ethan speaks, the voice stops. In Ethan Frome, Wharton explores the concept of determinism—the idea that human lives are determined by outside forces, including social customs, heredity, environment, history, and laws of nature.
Zeena took over the care of Ethan's mother as well as the household duties. Ethan would like nothing better than to move away; however, Zeena will not leave Starkfield. Starkfield is a town that is just like its name, it is boring, barren, severe, and harsh. During this evening, the narrator reveals small actions that show that they each have feelings for the other, including a lingering of touching hands on the milk jug, although neither openly declares their love. Ethan's intention is to deceive Zeena and protect Mattie. To avoid saying things to Zeena that he doesn't mean, Ethan does not respond to her incessant complaining; instead, he suffers in silence. The force of doomed passion is a central theme of the novel, and Wharton's own life makes clear why she was so preoccupied with this theme during these years of her life.
The room is warm and bright, and Zeena's cat lies contentedly by the fire. Moments later, they are interrupted by Zeena, who has decided that she is hungry after all. Penniless and orphaned after the failure of her father's business and her parents' death, Mattie worked for a while in a department store, but her health broke down. When The Narrator stays overnight at the Frome farm, over twenty years after the smash-up, he is surprised to find that Mattie — crippled by the accident — complains incessantly. Because of the setting in this novel the activities in Starkfield are sparse.
He watches Mattie dance with Eady and feels jealous but is unable to voice his feelings; he is, after all, married to Zeena. Wharton learned of the accident from one of the girls who survived, Kate Spencer, when the two became friends while both worked at the. During the dinner, the cat knocks Zeena's red dish off the table and it breaks on the floor. The next day, Ethan takes Mattie to the train station. Then the story goes back to the present and we find the engineer right where we left him, about to enter the Frome kitchen. As Ethan watches, Mattie dances with the arrogant Denis Eady, son of the town's wealthy grocer. Not only does the setting effect the characters, transportation, and activities but it also effects every aspect of the novel.
They describe him as imprisoned on the poverty-stricken farm with two discontented hags, doomed to contemplate the ruin of his hopes and to blame himself for his role in their destruction. Ethan is angry and frustrated to the point of panic by the thought of losing Mattie, and he is also worried for Mattie, who has no other place to go and no way to support herself in the world. Though after the accident she went to the Frome's quite often, Mrs. Plot Overview Finding himself laid up in the small New England town of Starkfield for the winter, the narrator sets out to learn about the life of a mysterious local named Ethan Frome, who had a tragic accident some twenty years earlier. Mattie is what, in Ethan's traditionalist estimation, a woman should be.
Afterwards, they stop at the sledding hill and Ethan proposes that they go for the ride they've often considered taking. As an orphan with no inheritance, Mattie is dependent on her relatives for support. The contrast between Zeena and Mattie is emphasized by the parallel between Mattie's appearance at the door and Zeena's in chapter 2. In the kitchen there are two women: one tall and severe, and the other shriveled and paralyzed. This approach achieves a certain realism, as we must observe these characters and make inferences about them, just as we would with new acquaintances in real life. This is Ethan Frome, who is a local fixture of the community, having been a lifelong resident.
Now it's clear that the pickle-dish symbolized Ethan and Zeena's marriage. Ned Hale and her mother, Mrs. A severe snowstorm during one of their journeys forces Frome to allow the narrator to shelter at his home one night. Although he knows Hale never pays in advance, Ethan goes to him for the money in order to avoid being exposed as a liar. On the way back, they talk affectionately to each other, and at some point Ethan puts his arm around Mattie to prevent her from falling.
The following day, the Narrator tells his landlady, Mrs. Yet, he also takes a certain pleasure in his position as an unnoticed voyeur. The setting greatly influences the characters, transportation, and activities. He lies to Zeena that he can't take her to the station because he must collect payment from Andrew Hale. They are always the victims of circumstance, chance, or heredity: Lily Bart and Ethan Frome are worlds apart socially, but both are the victims of tremendous impersonal forces. The night that Zeena is in Bettsbridge and Ethan is alone with Mattie, he fantasizes that he is married to Mattie. This observation presents the question: how can an individual play both roles… 770 Words 3 Pages their dreams.
Ethan is a poor man who is simple, straightforward, and responsible. Because Ethan never talks to Mattie about his feelings for her, he is unsure of her feelings for him. The farmhouse door is locked—then Mattie opens the door, silhouetted in lamplight as Zeena had been the night before. After Mattie refuses a ride home with Eady, she and Ethan walk home arm-in-arm. She was talking on and on in an argumentative tone. Not very long after the narrator arrives in Starkfield, the horses at the local stable fall sick do to the terrible weather.