Ethan Frome

Zenobia (Zeena) Frome Character Analysis

Ethan's wife, who is 35 at the time of the main narrative, is described as "already an old woman," with false teeth, wrinkles, a skeletal physique, and a sallow complexion. Ethan was dazzled by her efficiency when she came to nurse his mother, and marries her in order to avoid being left alone after his mother died. He realizes his mistake When Zeena is afflicted by illness and pain that thwart his hopes of moving to a bigger town. Though Ethan suspects that Zeena's illnesses are faked, his sense of duty forces him to take care of Zeena, and she uses her illness to manipulate and control Ethan. The behavior of Zeena's cat implies that Zeena has certain witch-like powers, though this is probably the Narrator's attempt to convey the power she has gained over Ethan and Mattie.

Zenobia (Zeena) Frome Quotes in Ethan Frome

The Ethan Frome quotes below are all either spoken by Zenobia (Zeena) Frome or refer to Zenobia (Zeena) 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:
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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She sat opposite the window, and the pale light reflected from the banks of snow made her face look more than usually drawn and bloodless, sharpened the three parallel creases between ear and cheek, and drew querulous lines from her thin nose to the corners of her mouth. Though she was but seven years her husband's senior, and he was only twenty-eight, she was already an old woman.
Related Characters: Zenobia (Zeena) Frome
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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 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:

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.

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:

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.

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:

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
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:

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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Zenobia (Zeena) Frome Character Timeline in Ethan Frome

The timeline below shows where the character Zenobia (Zeena) Frome appears in Ethan Frome. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...horse, resulting in disability, insanity, and death; his mother also went insane; and Ethan's wife Zenobia (also called Zeena) suffers from frequent real or imagined illnesses. (full context)
Chapter 1
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
...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 transition from city... (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... (full context)
Chapter 2
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
...Mattie will be leaving the Frome household. Mattie, however, thinks that Ethan is referring to Zeena's dissatisfaction with the way she does the housework. Mattie is clearly distressed at the prospect... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...does not resist. A dead cucumber vine dangling from the porch reminds Ethan that if Zeena were to die, he and Mattie would be free to marry. (full context)
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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The key that Zeena normally leaves under the doormat isn't there, and the guilty lovers experience a moment of... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
...The red sunrise reminds him of the rosy color of Mattie's cheeks. In contrast to Zeena's constant discontent, Mattie's positive attitude seems remarkable to him, considering how difficult her life has... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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The next morning, Zeena informs Ethan that she is going to Bettsbridge to consult a new doctor and stay... (full context)
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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 from his mill to... (full context)
Chapter 4
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
...a "talker," until her illness, when she fell silent and began to hear voices. When Zenobia Pierce, his cousin, came to help nurse his mother, Ethan was grateful for the company... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
When they married, Zeena and Ethan agreed that they would sell the farm and saw-mill and move to a... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Marriage Theme Icon
Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
After a while, Zeena had stopped talking almost entirely, except to complain. Ethan wonders if Zeena is going crazy... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...reads: "Dwelled Together in Peace for Fifty Years." He wonders if his own headstone with Zeena will bear the same words. (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. Conversation is strained as they feel that somehow... (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 prizes it so highly that she never ever... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...he can't see Mattie where she is sitting so he tells her to sit in Zeena's rocking-chair. When she does, Ethan is unsettled to see Zeena's face superimposed on Mattie's. Mattie... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...blushes. He feels that he has crossed a line: inside the house he shares with Zeena, Mattie seems unapproachable. The two talk about Ruth and Ned's upcoming marriage and Ethan, thinking... (full context)
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...something might happen between them... But just then, the cat darts at a mouse and Zeena's rocking-chair begins to rock, reminding them that Zeena will be back the following day. As... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Hostile or Indifferent Nature Theme Icon
...to town and buy some glue to fix the pickle-dish while sending Jotham to fetch Zeena at the train station. However, one of the horses slips on the ice and cuts... (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
...a bottle of glue is found. Ethan drives home in the rain, hoping to beat Zeena and Jotham back to the farm. When he sees that the sorrel horse is not... (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 Mattie he will... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...goods home to his wife, Ethan tries to persuade him to stay for supper, knowing Zeena will be less likely to make a scene if Jotham is present. Jotham, who normally... (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. Zeena, sitting... (full context)
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When Ethan objects angrily to the cost, Zeena shouts back at him that she would have been ashamed to tell the doctor that... (full context)
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Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon
Struggling with rage and disgust, Ethan tells Zeena that he lacks the money to pay for a hired girl and that he will... (full context)
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Ethan humbly apologizes to Zeena for being a poor man and says he will do the best he can for... (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 he will... (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... (full context)
Determinism and Free Will Theme Icon
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...Mattie is bewildered, and Ethan is forced to tell her that the doctor has ordered Zeena to get a hired girl, which Mattie realizes would force her to leave. (full context)
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Ethan says he won't let her leave, and that he will stand up to Zeena. At that moment Zeena comes down from the bedroom and sits at the table. Zeena... (full context)
Chapter 8
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As he writes, Ethan is besieged with doubts about whether Zeena will be able to sell the farm, and how she will keep it going until... (full context)
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...Mattie he thinks things will "straighten out" and not to take any notice of what Zeena says. (full context)
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At breakfast, Zeena is unusually alert and active. While Ethan looks on, she criticizes Mattie for neglecting the... (full context)
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At the Hale's house, Mrs. Andrew Hale greets Ethan and expresses sympathy for Zeena's poor health and for Ethan's troubles. Ethan is grateful for her sympathy, and continues on... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Zeena calls to them to hurry and Ethan and Mattie maneuver the trunk down the stairs... (full context)
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At dinner, Ethan cannot bring himself to eat. Zeena eats hungrily and offers Jotham seconds, though ordinarily she ignores him. She also accuses Mattie... (full context)
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...to come for Mattie as he will be driving her to the train station himself. Zeena protests but Ethan is firm. Zeena tries a second time, demanding that Ethan stay to... (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
...up Mattie at the station a little more than a year before, in similar weather. Zeena goes upstairs without saying goodbye, complaining of shooting pains in her legs. With a feeling... (full context)
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...if he could. At that moment Mattie pulls out the letter Ethan began writing to Zeena the night before. He asks Mattie if she would have gone west with him, but... (full context)
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...she has to leave him. Ethan thinks of going back to his intolerable life with Zeena, and kisses Mattie again, stroking her hair. (full context)
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...planning and is waiting for them. Just before they strike the tree, a vision of Zeena's face appears before him, and as he tries to brush it aside the sled swerves,... (full context)
Epilogue
Duty and Morality vs. Desire Theme Icon
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...ignores him, but the woman in the chair complains in a high, thin voice that Zeena fell asleep and let the fire go out, and that while it was out she... (full context)
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...the accident, but she starts crying and cannot finish her sentence. No one knows what Zeena was thinking, she says, but as soon as Mattie could be moved, Zeena took her... (full context)