Ethan Frome


Edith Wharton

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Ethan Frome, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Work, Industry and Progress Theme Icon

Technology, symbolized in Ethan Frome by the railroad, was developing rapidly at the turn of the century. Cities were growing, their populations swelled by the arrival of immigrants and people from the countryside, lured by jobs in factories and mills. Young women in particular often suffered serious health problems owing to the harsh working conditions that existed before protective labor laws were passed. In rural communities, technology provided new connections to the outside world, but also caused upset and change, as shown by the arrival of the railroad, which eliminates traffic on the road to the Frome farm.

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Work, Industry and Progress ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Work, Industry and Progress appears in each chapter of Ethan Frome. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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