Ethan Frome

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The protagonist of the novel and its tragic hero, Ethan is 28 years old in the main narrative and 52 years old in the frame story. According to the Narrator, he is a tall striking figure, despite being "a ruin of a man," an allusion both to the crippling injury and the disappointments he has suffered. Circumstances are partly responsible for Ethan's troubles, but his failure to act decisively in his own interest contributes to the unhappy condition of all three of the major characters by the end of the novel. Sensitive to natural beauty and intellectually curious, Ethan finds in Mattie a companion who appreciates his learning and respects his authority.

Ethan Frome Quotes in Ethan Frome

The Ethan Frome quotes below are all either spoken by Ethan Frome or refer to Ethan Frome. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Ethan Frome published in 2005.
Prologue Quotes
"Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters. Most of the smart ones get away."
Related Characters: Harmon Gow (speaker), Ethan Frome
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

When the narrator arrives in Starkfield, he observes Ethan Frome at the post office and is instantly intrigued by his quietness and despondency. The stagecoach driver and town gossip Harmon Gow comments on Ethan’s grim melancholy by pointing out the relationship of the harsh New England environment (and especially its winter months) to the people who live there. Gow observes that the Starkfield climate (and perhaps its judgmental small-town atmosphere as well) weighs heavily on its inhabitants, such as Ethan, creating a kind of prison that traps those who are not sufficiently determined to leave it. Ethan falls under this category, and when Gow comments that "the smart ones get away," he is suggesting that Ethan's failure to leave stems from a lack of will or determination to take hold of his life and change his circumstances. 

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"Sickness and trouble: that's what Ethan's had his plate full up with, ever since the very first helping."
Related Characters: Harmon Gow (speaker), Ethan Frome
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

In listening to Ethan’s neighbor’s account of him, the narrator comes to understand Ethan’s life initially from the perspective of an outsider who only sees the surface of Ethan’s problems. “Sickness” alludes to Ethan’s parents and his wife, Zeena, and “trouble” alludes to the larger struggles that these illnesses have caused in his life, such as poverty, dependency, and a lack of energy or will to change his lot in life. However, the narrator is able to sense that there are other issues underlying the surface, and over time it becomes clear to the reader that Ethan’s problems, while stemming from “sickness and trouble,” have grown past this simplistic account of them.

The fact that Ethan's troubles have plagued him for his entire life indicate that, beyond mere bad luck, Ethan’s own inability or lack of will to effect change in his life for the better have greatly contributed to his terrible situation. Ethan accepts decisions and choices that other people make for him, rather than making them for himself, just as a child might accept whatever his mother puts before him at mealtime.

He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of many Starkfield winters.
Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ethan Frome, Harmon Gow
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

During the narrator’s daily drives with Ethan, he isn’t able to learn much about his past due to Ethan’s reserved nature. As they travel outside through the melancholy landscape, the narrator observes Ethan’s similarities to this environment: they are both apparently barren and desolate, but the narrator suspects that a hidden warmth and spark lie deep underneath Ethan’s cold exterior, just as fertile grass lies in wait under snow. The result of Ethan’s having lived for his whole life in such a landscape enacts an unbreakable connection between the two, such that Ethan’s apparently unchangeable fate is fundamentally shaped by his environment of relentless stability and harshness. Ethan’s personality alone doesn’t determine his shyness with the narrator, but rather his “personal plight” leading to his personality has been a product of a life lived in an unrelenting environment.

Chapter 2 Quotes
For years that quiet company had mocked his restlessness, his desire for change and freedom. "We never got away—how should you?" seemed to be written on every headstone; and whenever he went in or out of his gate he thought with a shiver: "I shall just go on living here till I join them." But now all desire for change had vanished, and the sight of the little enclosure gave him a warm sense of continuance and stability.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome (speaker)
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

When walking home with Mattie after the dance, Ethan observes his family’s headstones in the cemetery. Usually, this provokes sadness in him because it reminds him that he will never be able to move away from the land that claimed his family, and thus, will never be able to move beyond his ancestors’ own aspirations, establishing a pattern of routine and regression in the Frome family. However, when he is in Mattie’s company, he begins to think about ways of tolerating the path that had previously been so stifling for him. Instead of seeming narrow or threatening, the quality of sameness that Ethan observes in the Frome family plot becomes comforting. In such a way, Mattie begins to fill a marital role, subsuming the memory of Zeena that tortures Ethan, by becoming part of the traditional continuance and stability that has defined the Frome family. Thus he is only able to gain fulfillment and comfort from his assumed future by changing out key points to make it more tolerable.

Chapter 4 Quotes
After the mortal silence of his long imprisonment Zeena's volubility was like music in his ears. He felt that he might have "gone like his mother" if the sound of a new voice had not come to steady him.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Zenobia (Zeena) Frome
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

After Ethan’s mother falls ill, she stops speaking and claims that she is “listening” instead to the various voices around her. As such, Ethan’s loneliness begins to consume him, just as the Starkfield weather consumes him and subsumes his desire for progress or advancement. With Zeena’s arrival, Ethan’s loneliness seems to be turning around, and he welcomes the friendliness offered by another human. Instead of offering something like routine, Zeena is “voluble” (talkative) and therefore adds a sense of difference to Ethan’s life. He grasps on to this feeling—unusual for Starkfield—and decides to marry her, even though Ethan only sees in her what he would see in any person: “a new voice” that can “steady him.” Ethan believes that Zeena saves him from illness and possibly insanity by arriving to nurse his mother and as such, there is a sense of indebtedness that he bears to her.

He recalled his mother's growing taciturnity, and wondered if Zeena were also turning "queer." Women did, he knew. Zeena, who had at her fingers' ends the pathological chart of the whole region, had cited many cases of the kind while she was nursing his mother; and he himself knew of certain lonely farm-houses in the neighborhood where stricken creatures pined, and of others where sudden tragedy had come of their presence. At times, looking at Zeena's shut face, he felt the chill of such forebodings. At other times her silence seemed deliberately assumed to conceal far-reaching intentions, mysterious conclusions drawn from suspicions and resentments impossible to guess.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Zenobia (Zeena) Frome
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

In Starkfield, women did not have much power for individual mobility, and so Zeena was largely restricted to her home with Ethan after her marriage. As such, her access to the outside world came in the form of gossip, and Zeena collected stories of other people’s illnesses as a way of vicariously escaping her own gendered lot. However, the prevailing gossip of illness inevitably contributed towards Zeena’s own sense of ill-being and pain. Like Ethan’s mother, women internalized the harsh environment and their own confinement, turning inwardly and becoming taciturn about their mental sufferings. To compensate, Zeena complained frequently about her external and physical sufferings, only vocalizing when she could complain about her failing body. Ethan suspects that Zeena has a complex interiority beneath her taciturnity, and yet he fears her resentments, which he understands only insofar as he has his own resentments towards her. Both serve as the other’s prison, and enact distinct forms of loneliness and despair that the other cannot relieve, and in fact only exacerbates.

Completely reassured, she shone on him through tear-hung lashes, and his soul swelled with pride as he saw how his tone had subdued her. She did not even ask what he had done. Except when he was steering a big log down the mountain to his mill he had never known such a thrilling sense of mastery.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Mattie Silver
Related Symbols: The Red Glass Pickle-dish
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

When Mattie breaks the red pickle dish, symbolizing their mutual and forbidden love for each other (as the pickle dish was Zeena's favorite wedding present), it represents the danger of acting on their passion. However, when Ethan cleans it up and puts it back together—as though it never happened—the two believe that they have solved their problem, even though it is merely a temporary solution. In this passage, both Ethan and Mattie are willing to put their faith in Ethan with his masculine authority that declares that the problem has been solved, even though he has merely swept it under the rug (almost literally). Mattie cedes to Ethan, and he views her as “subdued,” speaking to the subservient position of women in marital relations. Ethan’s sense of control over Mattie is further emphasized by his invigorating memory of steering a log down the mountain—and image that will recur with disastrous results later in the text.

Chapter 5 Quotes
Now, in the warm lamp-lit room, with all its ancient implications of conformity and order, she seemed infinitely farther away from him and more unapproachable.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

After picking up Mattie at the dance, Ethan feels free outside under the stars, in contrast to his feeling within the home. Even though he and Mattie seem to resemble an old married couple, Ethan is uncomfortably aware of the moment’s artifice. Mattie’s distance from him in the house is particularly pointed because of the relationship of the home to the traditional conception of marriage that adultery would violate. The potentially adulterous relationship between the two threatens the “ancient implications of conformity and order” that the home would otherwise suggest, which is underscored by the shattering of the red pickle dish (a symbol of their passion, but also of domesticity and Ethan's marriage to Zeena) and the superimposition of Zeena’s face over Mattie’s. Although Ethan and Mattie should feel more comfortable at home than out in the open, exposed to the harsh elements, instead the house becomes a source of discomfort and disillusionment because of how it manages to separate the two by convention, rather than bringing them together.

Chapter 7 Quotes
She was no longer the listless creature who had lived at his side in a state of sullen self-absorption, but a mysterious alien presence, an evil energy secreted from the long years of silent brooding. It was the sense of his helplessness that sharpened his antipathy. There had never been anything in her that one could appeal to; but as long as he could ignore and command he had remained indifferent. Now she had mastered him and he abhorred her. . . . All the long misery of his baffled past, of his youth of failure, hardship and vain effort, rose up in his soul in bitterness and seemed to take shape before him in the woman who at every turn had barred his way. She had taken everything else from him; and now she meant to take the one thing that made up for all the others.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Zenobia (Zeena) Frome
Page Number: 64-65
Explanation and Analysis:

Ethan can usually ignore Zeena, since she stays at home and only speaks when she complains. However, with her attempting to control her household by dismissing Mattie, Zeena attempts to strip masculine authority from Ethan by asserting her control over his actions. This reversal of traditional gender roles leaves Ethan resentful and furious, because not just his happiness has been overstepped, but also what he regards as his essential role as a man. In his “helplessness,” Ethan is not just made powerless, but he is feminized by his wife. To be a woman in Starkfield at this time is to be relatively helpless in the face of fate, and to be unable to assert authority in relationships between men and women. Because Mattie offers the one possible escape route from his misery, Ethan’s perceived subjugation by Zeena is not just the escape from his present unhappiness, but the insurance that he will be as unhappy as Zeena and Mattie forever.

Chapter 8 Quotes
Must he wear out all his years at the side of a bitter querulous woman? Other possibilities had been in him, possibilities sacrificed, one by one, to Zeena's narrow-mindedness and ignorance. And what good had come of it? She was a hundred times bitterer and more discontented than when he had married her: the one pleasure left her was to inflict pain on him.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Zenobia (Zeena) Frome
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Within Ethan’s anger at Zeena is his fear that he did not sufficiently take hold of his fate to change his circumstances when he was unhappy. With “possibilities sacrificed” to Zeena’s will, Ethan saw his own will and authority subsumed, but wasn’t aware of it until Mattie came to stay with them. Zeena’s unhappiness, further, has grown just as Ethan’s has over time; the two become more and more unhappy with the other every day, and are able to feel happiness only when they hurt the other. Even though Ethan feels guilty over his potential adultery with Mattie, still he derives a thrill from it that stems, in part, from his desire to exert authority over his own life even at the risk of causing Zeena unhappiness.

The inexorable facts closed in on him like a prison-warder handcuffing a convict. There was no way out—none. He was a prisoner for life, and now his one ray of light was to be extinguished.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

The “inexorable facts” that halt Ethan in his tracks are not abstract feeling of doubt or guilt, but rather his knowledge that tangible, concrete things are holding him back: namely, a lack of money with which to travel West with Mattie and support them both. He is close to being moved to action in writing a letter to Zeena revealing his plan, but the absence of money plagues Ethan just as it plagues everyone in Starkfield, whether or not they are trying to uproot their lives, which is why Ethan is unable to borrow money from his neighbors.

The image of a prisoner works in two ways; on the one hand, Ethan has been imprisoned by his lack of money. On the other, someone who steals money would face the same fate of imprisonment. In such a way, it is clear to Ethan that he has to accept his lot in life because even attempting to change it would end in the same grim way. What had once been a “ray of light”—his escape with Mattie—proves just as unreasonable and capable of turning out poorly, underscoring the way that Ethan feels like a “prisoner for life,” trapped by his internal and external circumstances.

The early mist had vanished and the fields lay like a silver shield under the sun. It was one of the days when the glitter of winter shines through a pale haze of spring. Every yard of the road was alive with Mattie's presence, and there was hardly a branch against the sky or a tangle of brambles on the bank in which some bright shred of memory was not caught. Once, in the stillness, the call of a bird in a mountain ash was so like her laughter that his heart tightened and then grew large; and all these things made him see that something must be done at once.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 76-77
Explanation and Analysis:

As Ethan prepares for Mattie’s departure, he finds the surrounding landscape to contain memories of and similarities to Mattie, instead of finding it bleak, harsh, and barren of fond memories. Like bits of string from her red scarf catching on tree branches, Mattie’s time at Starkfield remains inscribed on the surrounding environment for Ethan, such that the birds resonate with Mattie’s laughter when the two stood outside after the dance. Ironically, in accepting, rather than rejecting, the landscape around him, Ethan is able to make manifest his desire for change and act on his desire for something different and comforting. However, because Ethan projects his desire for change onto an existing, stable, and harsh landscape, any action he and Mattie undertake to escape their life must necessarily be tinged with disaster, as with all things during Starkfield’s winters.

Chapter 9 Quotes
"You won't need me, you mean? I suppose you'll marry!"

"Oh, Ethan!" she cried.

"I don't know how it is you make me feel, Matt. I'd a'most rather have you dead than that!"

"Oh, I wish I was, I wish I was!" she sobbed.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome (speaker), Mattie Silver (speaker), Ethan Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

In this society, marriage for women is at once a livelihood and a death knell. They must marry to guarantee a home and an income (even though both would belong in name to their husbands) due to the lack of opportunities for women to work outside of the home. However, in marrying, women also lose the autonomy and freedom of unmarried women because they are beholden to their husbands’ desires and expectations, and their previous lives are effectively rendered null, or dead. In considering Mattie married to someone else, Ethan realizes the way that this would effectively render her “dead” in respect to him. Unlike Ethan, who might recover in society from an adulterous relationship, Mattie never could. As such, when he considers Mattie marrying, he considers the total conclusion of any relationship they might have had. For Ethan, it is not so extreme to consider Mattie “dead” to him when he considers her loving, or at least living with, anyone else. (Although of course it's also incredibly selfish of him to prefer her dead altogether, rather than just dead to him.)

Mattie similarly realizes that Ethan would be forever lost to her if she married. However, in saying, “Oh, I wish I was [dead],” she takes death onto herself. Rather than condemning her beloved Ethan to a metaphorical death, as he does to her, she metaphorically takes her own life to save Ethan’s. This kind of suicidal sacrifice speaks again to the insidiousness of gender relations that leaves the woman with a much harsher end of the social and marital bargain.

He laughed contemptuously: "I could go down this coast with my eyes tied!" and she laughed with him, as if she liked his audacity. Nevertheless he sat still a moment, straining his eyes down the long hill, for it was the most confusing hour of the evening, the hour when the last clearness from the upper sky is merged with the rising night in a blur that disguises landmarks and falsifies distances.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

Although Ethan boasts to Mattie about his superior vision and ability to protect her, when the crucial moment comes to sled down the hill, he is momentarily gripped by doubt as he looks down the darkened hill. The danger of the situation is emphasized with the “blur that disguises landmarks and falsifies distances,” which leads the reader to distrust Ethan, even though Mattie does not fear for her life because of his swaggering “audacity.” Ethan’s superior vision recurs as a motif particularly in his interactions with Mattie; yet while he can see small objects and obstacles, his emotional vision is much dimmer and less sure. In squinting at the landscape before him, Ethan tries to overcome this dimmed vision emotionally and physically. While it does not harm them on the first try, Mattie realizes the latent danger and potential harm they could do to one another, inspiring their disastrous second ride down.

Her sombre violence constrained him: she seemed the embodied instrument of fate. He pulled the sled out, blinking like a night-bird as he passed from the shade of the spruces into the transparent dusk of the open. The slope below them was deserted. All Starkfield was at supper, and not a figure crossed the open space before the church. The sky, swollen with the clouds that announce a thaw, hung as low as before a summer storm. He strained his eyes through the dimness, and they seemed less keen, less capable than usual.
Related Characters: Ethan Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

As “the embodied instrument of fate,” Mattie is no longer merely a pawn in the game of her own circumstances; instead, she attempts to gain control of her life as it is spinning out of her grasp. However, to Ethan, she is just one more instrument acting out someone else’s desires over him, even though they overlap in this moment. Mattie ultimately makes the decision to go down the hill to try to kill themselves; Ethan merely follows her lead, thus making the metaphorical path they are about to take that much dimmer and unclear. His eyes fail him in this instance where he is not in control of his body or his future; instead, Mattie exerts unusual control over his actions. (Although, of course, it's not unusual for Ethan to assume that "fate" or outside influence of some kind is really determining his life, rather than his own free will—it's just unusual for Mattie to be the one so powerful and determined.)

With the shift to Starkfield’s population at supper, there is a characteristic jump of Wharton to the everyday and the mundane that permeates more symbolically-rich moments in the novel. As when Ethan is halted in his decision to travel West by the thought of money, here Ethan might be stopped by the thought of the society in which he lives, which passes day by day in the same routine. He and Mattie ultimately attempt to break with such a society in attempting suicide; however, their attempt does not rupture society’s rules or conventions. Instead, it merely ruptures their individual futures.

Epilogue Quotes
"And I say, if she'd ha' died, Ethan might ha' lived; and the way they are now, I don't see's there's much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard; 'cept that down there they're all quiet, and the women have got to hold their tongues."
Related Characters: Mrs. Andrew Hale (speaker), Ethan Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

After the “smash up,” Ethan is resigned to live a life of misery with two similarly miserable women: Mattie and Zeena, who now cares for Mattie in a reversal of fortunes. In this way, his life is more like a living death, and was directly a result of his inability to make a decision at the crucial moment in regards to Mattie. By living out their days in such misery, each member of the family is akin to the dead Frome family members buried in the church. In continuing to talk, the living Frome members (primarily Mattie) perpetuate their misery by vocalizing it, while the dead members suffer in silence. The final rebellion of women in the novel is speech, so in some ways, Mattie’s ability to continue talking and complaining after the accident gives her a small sense of agency, while Ethan buries further and further into his dejected taciturnity—that which the narrator experiences when Ethan drives him around town at the beginning of the story.

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Ethan Frome Character Timeline in Ethan Frome

The timeline below shows where the character Ethan Frome appears in Ethan Frome. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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...a job at a power plant in Corbury Junction, Massachusetts, describes his first impressions of Ethan Frome. Frome is a badly crippled but still striking older man whom the Narrator has... (full context)
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...owner Denis Eady's horses fall ill from an epidemic, Gow suggests that the Narrator hire Ethan to drive him to the train station and back every day. Gow explains that the... (full context)
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Although Ethan says little as he drives the Narrator to the station, the Narrator learns that Ethan... (full context)
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One day, a severe winter storm blocks the railroad. Ethan drives the Narrator the full ten miles to the power station, along a road that... (full context)
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On the way home the storm worsens and Ethan and the Narrator are forced to take shelter at the Frome farm. As they enter... (full context)
Chapter 1
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The Narrator's "vision" of Ethan Frome's story , told in the third person, begins. It is winter in Starkfield. Young... (full context)
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...because her own parents lost their money and died a year earlier. She now helps Ethan's sickly wife Zeena with household chores in exchange for room and board. To make the... (full context)
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Recently, however, Zeena pointed out to Ethan how inefficiently Mattie does the housework. Ethan tried to cover up for Mattie by secretly... (full context)
Chapter 2
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As Mattie leaves the church after the dance, Denis approaches and talks with her. Ethan, shyly hiding in the shadows, eavesdrops on their conversation. Denis brags that he has his... (full context)
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After Denis leaves, Ethan joins Mattie and they begin the walk back to the farm. They pause near the... (full context)
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As Ethan and Mattie walk through the snowy landscape to the farm, they pass under hemlock trees... (full context)
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As they approach the darkened farmhouse, Ethan puts his arms around Mattie. She does not resist. A dead cucumber vine dangling from... (full context)
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...sleep," meaning that she feels ill. Not wanting Mattie to see him follow Zeena upstairs, Ethan claims that he wants to stay up and go over the mill accounts. Mattie warns... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The next morning Ethan wonders why he didn't kiss Mattie the night before when he had the chance. The... (full context)
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The next morning, Zeena informs Ethan that she is going to Bettsbridge to consult a new doctor and stay overnight with... (full context)
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At the last minute, in order to buy more time with Mattie, Ethan lies to Zeena—he says he needs to collect payment for the delivery of lumber from... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Ethan looks forward to an evening alone with Mattie, and recalls how warm and inviting the... (full context)
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When they married, Zeena and Ethan agreed that they would sell the farm and saw-mill and move to a larger town,... (full context)
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After a while, Zeena had stopped talking almost entirely, except to complain. Ethan wonders if Zeena is going crazy like his mother (and many other women who lived... (full context)
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Not wanting to be caught in the lie he has told to Zeena, Ethan goes to Andrew Hale with his load of lumber and asks for an advance payment,... (full context)
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In the village Ethan is passed by Denis Eady in his father's cutter (a fancy sled for the time).... (full context)
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On the way home, Ethan passes the Frome graveyard again and sees the headstone of his namesake, another Ethan Frome,... (full context)
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As Ethan and Mattie sit down at the table, Zeena's cat jumps between them onto Zeena's chair.... (full context)
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...wedding gifts. In fact, Zeena prizes it so highly that she never ever uses it. Ethan consoles Mattie by replacing the broken fragments on the top shelf of the china-closet, saying... (full context)
Chapter 5
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After supper, Mattie sews while Ethan smokes his pipe and sits by the fire. Ethan wishes this scene of domestic bliss... (full context)
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Gradually, Ethan and Mattie find it easier to talk, and the illusion that they are husband and... (full context)
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Ethan touches the end of the fabric Mattie is sewing, then tells her that he surprised... (full context)
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Realizing that time is running out, Ethan touches the fabric a second time. This time Mattie notices, and it seems as if... (full context)
Chapter 6
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The following day at breakfast Ethan thinks happily of the evening he shared with Mattie. He imagines that Mattie knew why... (full context)
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Ethan tells Mattie he will be back from the mill in time for dinner. The weather... (full context)
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After dinner, Ethan hurries to the village with the logs, then to Michael Eady's store for the glue.... (full context)
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However, when Ethan bursts into the kitchen Mattie tells him Zeena has returned and has gone upstairs without... (full context)
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...the sorrel horse, which he has borrowed to carry some goods home to his wife, Ethan tries to persuade him to stay for supper, knowing Zeena will be less likely to... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Ethan calls Zeena's name, but when she does not answer he goes up to their room.... (full context)
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When Ethan objects angrily to the cost, Zeena shouts back at him that she would have been... (full context)
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Struggling with rage and disgust, Ethan tells Zeena that he lacks the money to pay for a hired girl and that... (full context)
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Ethan humbly apologizes to Zeena for being a poor man and says he will do the... (full context)
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Mattie's voice sounds from the landing, calling Ethan and Zeena to supper. Zeena says she's not coming down and Ethan calls out that... (full context)
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Realizing that he has been "mastered" by Zeena, Ethan looks at his wife with loathing. His helplessness makes him hate her, and he feels... (full context)
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At the supper table Mattie looks at Ethan happily, oblivious to what has just occurred. Ethan is so upset that he can't eat... (full context)
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Mattie tries to console Ethan but she knows her prospects of getting work are poor. Ethan remembers stories he has... (full context)
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Ethan says he won't let her leave, and that he will stand up to Zeena. At... (full context)
Chapter 8
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After the scene in the kitchen, Ethan goes on his nightly inspection of the farm. He returns to find the kitchen empty,... (full context)
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As he writes, Ethan is besieged with doubts about whether Zeena will be able to sell the farm, and... (full context)
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As Ethan lies hopelessly on the sofa, he sees the moon through the window-pane and remembers that... (full context)
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...listening for him to come upstairs. As daylight comes and the stove warms the kitchen, Ethan feels more hopeful. He tells Mattie he thinks things will "straighten out" and not to... (full context)
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Ethan goes out to the barn, where he meets Jotham Powell. Jotham tells Ethan that Daniel... (full context)
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Ethan is ashamed at what Mattie must think of him and confused about what to do,... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Back at the farm, Ethan finds Daniel Byrne waiting in his sleigh outside the kitchen door. Ethan is shocked to... (full context)
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Zeena calls to them to hurry and Ethan and Mattie maneuver the trunk down the stairs together. Zeena does not move from her... (full context)
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At dinner, Ethan cannot bring himself to eat. Zeena eats hungrily and offers Jotham seconds, though ordinarily she... (full context)
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Ethan tells Jotham not to come for Mattie as he will be driving her to the... (full context)
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As Ethan readies the horse for the trip, he notes the spring-like weather and remembers picking up... (full context)
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Instead of going in the direction of Starkfield, Ethan turns the sleigh toward Bettsbridge. They drive to a beautiful spot in the woods called... (full context)
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Ethan longs to reach out and touch Mattie, to tell her how he feels, but just... (full context)
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As the sleigh winds through the fields back to the Starkfield road, Ethan asks Mattie what she plans to do when she gets to Stamford. When Mattie replies... (full context)
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Ethan persists, and Mattie tells him she has been fantasizing about going away with him since... (full context)
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...see some boys with sleds leaving the sledding-grounds, and at the top of the hill Ethan asks Mattie if she'd like to coast down with him one time before they drive... (full context)
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As they climb back up the hill, Ethan thinks to himself that it's the last time they'll ever walk together. Ethan says he... (full context)
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Suddenly, Mattie asks Ethan to sled down with her again, "So't we'll never come up any more." Ethan asks... (full context)
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The train whistles in the distance. Ethan wonders if he will feel anything after he dies. His horse whinnies, and he thinks... (full context)
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Ethan climbs onto the sled and Mattie gets on in front of him. He orders her... (full context)
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Lying in the snow after the crash, Ethan sees a star and wonders vaguely if it is the star Sirius. He feels very... (full context)
Epilogue
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Ethan comments that the fire seems almost out. The tall woman ignores him, but the woman... (full context)
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...only goes there twice a year, because she can't stand to see the look on Ethan's face when the two women "get going at each other." She is about to tell... (full context)
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...that life must be horrible for them all. Mrs. Hale agrees, but says she thinks Ethan has it the worst. She confides to the Narrator that she thinks it's a pity... (full context)