Ethan Frome

Zeena's vivacious 21-year-old cousin, who comes to live with the Fromes when her parents die and leave her penniless. With no education or job skills, Mattie is forced to rely on the charity of her relatives, performing menial work in return for room and board. Her only hope of escape lies in attracting a suitor who will marry her and remove her from the Frome household, so her infatuation with Ethan is reckless, endangering her employment and her future. Mattie's red scarf and red ribbon symbolize her passionate nature.

Mattie Silver Quotes in Ethan Frome

The Ethan Frome quotes below are all either spoken by Mattie Silver or refer to Mattie Silver. 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:
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Ethan Frome published in 2005.
Chapter 3 Quotes
But when Zenobia's doctor recommended her looking about for some one to help her with the house-work the clan instantly saw the chance of exacting a compensation from Mattie.
Related Characters: Zenobia (Zeena) Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes
She stood just as Zeena had stood, a lifted lamp in her hand, against the black background of the kitchen. She held the light at the same level, and it drew out with the same distinctness her slim young throat and the brown wrist no bigger than a child's. Then, striking upward, it threw a lustrous fleck on her lips, edged her eyes with velvet shade, and laid a milky whiteness above the black curve of her brows.
Related Characters: Zenobia (Zeena) Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 5 Quotes
It was almost as if the other face, the face of the superseded woman, had obliterated that of the intruder.
Related Characters: Zenobia (Zeena) Frome, Mattie Silver
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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Chapter 7 Quotes
"If I'd 'a' listened to folks, you'd 'a' gone before now, and this wouldn't 'a' happened," she said; and gathering up the bits of broken glass she went out of the room as if she carried a dead body . . .
Related Characters: Mattie Silver (speaker), Mattie Silver
Related Symbols: The Red Glass Pickle-dish
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 8 Quotes
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:

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Mattie Silver Character Timeline in Ethan Frome

The timeline below shows where the character Mattie Silver appears in Ethan Frome. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
Hiding outside the church, Ethan peeps through a window and sees Mattie Silver, his wife's younger cousin, dancing with Denis Eady, the son of Michael Eady, a... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Mattie lives with the Fromes because her own parents lost their money and died a year... (full context)
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Recently, however, Zeena pointed out to Ethan how inefficiently Mattie does the housework. Ethan tried to cover up for Mattie by secretly helping her with... (full context)
Chapter 2
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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As Mattie leaves the church after the dance, Denis approaches and talks with her. Ethan, shyly hiding... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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After Denis leaves, Ethan joins Mattie and they begin the walk back to the farm. They pause near the top of... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Wanting to find out for sure whether Mattie has feelings for Denis, Ethan mentions that other people have been saying that Mattie will... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
As Ethan and Mattie walk through the snowy landscape to the farm, they pass under hemlock trees and the... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
As they approach the darkened farmhouse, Ethan puts his arms around Mattie. She does not resist. A dead cucumber vine dangling from the porch reminds Ethan that... (full context)
Chapter 3
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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The next morning Ethan wonders why he didn't kiss Mattie the night before when he had the chance. The red sunrise reminds him of the... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
...little money the Fromes have on expensive medicines, he looks forward to being alone with Mattie. Zeena appears old and wrinkled even though she is only 35, eight years older than... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 4
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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Ethan looks forward to an evening alone with Mattie, and recalls how warm and inviting the kitchen was in the days when his mother... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...sinks as he imagines that Denis is on his way to the farm to meet Mattie. Retrieving his horses from Andrew Hale's stable, he surprises Ned Hale and Ruth Varnum secretly... (full context)
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
The farmhouse door is locked—then Mattie opens the door, silhouetted in lamplight as Zeena had been the night before. She has... (full context)
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
As Ethan and Mattie sit down at the table, Zeena's cat jumps between them onto Zeena's chair. Conversation is... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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Mattie is distraught. The pickle-dish was one of Zeena's most prized wedding gifts. In fact, Zeena... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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After supper, Mattie sews while Ethan smokes his pipe and sits by the fire. Ethan wishes this scene... (full context)
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Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
Gradually, Ethan and Mattie find it easier to talk, and the illusion that they are husband and wife and... (full context)
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Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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Ethan touches the end of the fabric Mattie is sewing, then tells her that he surprised Ned and Ruth kissing by the Varnums'... (full context)
Chapter 6
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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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 he didn't press her for signs of affection and... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
Ethan tells Mattie he will be back from the mill in time for dinner. The weather has gotten... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
...he sees that the sorrel horse is not in the barn he believes he and Mattie are alone. (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
However, when Ethan bursts into the kitchen Mattie tells him Zeena has returned and has gone upstairs without saying a word. Ethan tells... (full context)
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...what passed between him and Zeena on the drive home. When he re-enters the kitchen Mattie has set the table and it looks as welcoming as the night before. (full context)
Chapter 7
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
...for her. She replies that they will manage since they won't have to pay for Mattie's board any longer. Ethan is confused, but Zeena shrilly insists that Mattie is a burden... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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Mattie's voice sounds from the landing, calling Ethan and Zeena to supper. Zeena says she's not... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
At the supper table Mattie looks at Ethan happily, oblivious to what has just occurred. Ethan is so upset that... (full context)
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Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
Mattie tries to console Ethan but she knows her prospects of getting work are poor. Ethan... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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...table. Zeena says she is feeling better and starts eating, while Ethan sits speechless and Mattie tries to act as if everything is normal. After eating, though, Zeena complains of heartburn... (full context)
Chapter 8
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...find the kitchen empty, with his pipe laid out for him, and a note from Mattie telling him not to worry. In the kitchen he finds a note from Mattie that... (full context)
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...until she finds a buyer. He also worries how he will be able to support Mattie, considering he has no money and he knows no one who will lend to him. (full context)
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...he sees the moon through the window-pane and remembers that he had promised to take Mattie sledding. The beauty of the snowy landscape seems to mock his wretchedness, and he falls... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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At dawn, Mattie appears in the doorway wearing her red scarf. She is pale and says she has... (full context)
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...where he meets Jotham Powell. Jotham tells Ethan that Daniel Byrne is willing to take Mattie's trunk to Corbury Flats, so that the sleigh will be lighter when he takes Mattie... (full context)
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At breakfast, Zeena is unusually alert and active. While Ethan looks on, she criticizes Mattie for neglecting the geraniums, accuses her of stealing a number of items, and discusses the... (full context)
Chapter 9
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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...Byrne waiting in his sleigh outside the kitchen door. Ethan is shocked to learn that Mattie is getting her trunk down from her room alone, since Jotham is at the wood-lot... (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 chair or... (full context)
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Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...Zeena eats hungrily and offers Jotham seconds, though ordinarily she ignores him. She also accuses Mattie of stealing various items. After dinner, Mattie washes the dishes. (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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Ethan tells Jotham not to come for Mattie as he will be driving her to the train station himself. Zeena protests but Ethan... (full context)
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...readies the horse for the trip, he notes the spring-like weather and remembers picking up Mattie at the station a little more than a year before, in similar weather. Zeena goes... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...spot in the woods called Shadow Pond, where at a church picnic the summer before Mattie and Ethan sat on a fallen log by the pond. As they sat, Mattie noticed... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Ethan longs to reach out and touch Mattie, to tell her how he feels, but just then Mattie says, "We mustn't stay here... (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 that she... (full context)
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Ethan persists, and Mattie tells him she has been fantasizing about going away with him since the day at... (full context)
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Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...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 to the... (full context)
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...time they'll ever walk together. Ethan says he thinks the sled is Ned Hale's, and Mattie asks him if this is the place where he saw Ned and Ruth kissing. She... (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."... (full context)
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Ethan climbs onto the sled and Mattie gets on in front of him. He orders her to get on behind him, because... (full context)
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...snow. He wants to help it, and feels around with his hand, which finds something soft—Mattie's hair. He realizes that his hand is on her face, and then he sees her... (full context)
Epilogue
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...room. Ethan introduces the tall woman as his wife, and the complaining woman as "Miss Mattie Silver." (full context)
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...two women "get going at each other." She is about to tell the Narrator what Mattie said to her when she was carried up to the Varnum house after the accident,... (full context)
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...it the worst. She confides to the Narrator that she thinks it's a pity that Mattie survived the accident, because if she had died, "Ethan might ha' lived." She adds that... (full context)