February 14 2017

He turned and walked slowly back to the farm.

Please discuss Ethan Frome through the very end here.  Be sure to include many specific text-based details in your commentary.  Be sure also to reply to your classmates as the discussion evolves over the course of the evening.

Remember also, that a part of your homework tonight is to annotate the text (use lots of post-its to mark interesting, surprising, or confusing passages – and mark on the post-its what your thoughts are).  Also, write at least 2 (two) EXCELLENT discussion questions to spark tomorrow’s conversation

Ethan Frome blog #5


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Posted February 14, 2017 by equinson in category Ethan Frome

36 thoughts on “He turned and walked slowly back to the farm.

  1. Toa Neil

    So Mattie is leaving and is saddened, Ethan tries to comfort her and drives her to the train station, but they decide to spend time sledding. They are saddened and they decide to kill themselves. However, Ethan can’t even die properly and they are just hurt.
    I notice how Mattie is the “small animal” what might that mean?
    Why does their decision to die by a tree foreshadowed?

    Reply
  2. ilyssal

    As I finished my reread of “Ethan Frome” I still am unable to pinpoint who is the narrator of this short novella by Edith Wharton. In the prologue it sounds like a different person is writing about the life of Ethan Frome. Throughout the rest of the story the perspective changes a slight bit and I wonder if Ethan himself is the narrator, reminiscing on his past life and experiences. While this may sound reasonable, what throws me off track is the fact that the narrator, whoever it is, is able to share the feelings of each character. If Ethan is narrating, how would he know how Zeena or Mattie is feeling? Also, if it isn’t Ethan and is someone with a strange desire to stalk and document Ethan’s life, how would he know these things as well?

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  3. caias1

    After finishing the novel, I questioned how Ethan’s last thought after hitting the elm tree could be, “I ought to be getting him his feed.” (pg 108) He and Mattie just crashed into the big elm, both of them are badly injured, but he is worried about giving the old sorrel his food? And how did he not plan that out before hitting the elm tree? Was he just going to leave the horse there on his own, hitched up to a wagon? That just seems like really bad planning on his part. Also, couldn’t he and Mattie have just eloped? Suicide seems just a little bit extensive, and the two of them did not even die.

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  4. sofiad1

    As I concluded my reread of this great novella, I have some unanswered questions that I must address. I cannot see why on earth Zeena, who was looking for a new handmaiden, would have become the handmaiden herself. If she was truly unbearably sick, she probably would have just sent Ethan to get the new handmaiden from the train station, as he was supposed to do. Another unanswered question I have is who is our narrator? While in the story, we switch from his perspective to the perspective. I actually have a theory for this, although we will never know if it is fact. I believe that the narrator is a son of Mrs. Hale. He immediately lodges with them when he moves here, and there is no mention of anyone else in the town of Starkfield doing anything similar. Additionally, I believe that when we learn of the incident, it is actually Ethan telling the narrator the story, and that is what we are hearing.

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  5. briannag3

    Upon finishing my second read through of Ethan Frome I noticed a few things. Ethan’s love life is almost like a pattern. When his mom got sick his cousin Zeena came to his aid to help her and he fell in love with her. They got married and then Zeena got sick. Mattie came as a housemaiden and Ethan fell in love with her. It’s like history repeating with different women. It’s almost as if Ethan wanted to escape, fall in love with Zeena and run away with her after his mother died maybe. However Zeena got sick. So run away with Mattie? What I don’t understand is, how did his feelings for Mattie even develop? This brings us back to the question; is his attraction to Mattie love or lust. While some might argue that Ethan was willing to kill himself for Mattie so they could be together forever, but is that really the reason? In the beginning the narrator explained that everyone eventually leaves Starkfield but Ethan was the only one that had stayed this many winters. Maybe Ethan was so willing to kill himself not for Mattie but for himself.

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  6. arihantp1

    I was intrigued by Ethan and Mattie’s suicide pact during the last few pages of the novel. Unable to go on without each other, they both try to kill themselves, but end up critically injuring themselves instead. While I was reading, I thought of how similar this is to the ending or the play “Romeo and Juliet.” Even though Ethan and Mattie failed to kill themselves, they both were unable to live without each other, similar to “Romeo and Juliet.” I also found it interesting how Zeena was able to take care of Mattie and Ethan even though she was “sick.” “…considering how sick she was – but she seemed to be raised right up just when the call came to her.” (pg. 113). Zeena’s sudden recovery doesn’t seem right, and is questionable.

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    1. christophert3

      I agree, her sudden revival as a result of Ethan(and Mattie?) getting injured is very confusing. Does this mean she was faking the sickness the whole time? But then again, you can’t take random medications if you’re not really sick. So is she sick?

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  7. christophert3

    After reading through today’s pages, I had a few thoughts about certain parts. First was the part where Ethan needed glue to fix the broken pickle dish. When Ethan went to go get it, he went to Michael Eady’s since they were basically a convenience store. But when he went, instead it was Denis Eady at the counter. There was no problem since Denis could still run the store. But there was the fact that he liked Mattie, as we can tell from the times he has tried to woo her through acts such as trying to give her a ride in his car. But she has resisted. When Ethan goes to the store and asks for the glue, Denis spends a lot of time trying to find the glue but doesn’t find it. He says that when Michael Eady comes back, maybe he could find some. For this part though, I kind of had a suspicion that Denis might have been lying about not being able to find the glue because he has a grudge against Ethan for being closer to Mattie than himself. This was something that intrigued me. Also, in the book, I saw how when Ethan and Zeena had their first fight, Ethan was at first very considerate until Zeena brought into the picture how she needed a hired hand to do all the work. Ethan, though he says he hates Zeena, doesn’t actually hate her. This is shown when he was thinking of running away with Mattie and then realized Zeena would not have enough money to cover the servant or just live by herself since she was in terrible condition and the mill would not sell for a high price, thus ending his strive to run away with Mattie. Before Zeena and Ethan started arguing, Ethan was trying to console and sympathize with her. He felt sorry for her cause her condition. But when they started arguing, it was Ethan who started it. He felt, after Zeena mentioned ordering a hired hand to come, that she was just trying to get him to drain his sources and lose all of his money. So he started getting angry starting a fight. But I realized that, if you looked at Zeena’s point of view, all her desires are valid and necessary. She isn’t trying to be mean. It’s just how she feels. As she said, she wouldn’t have been able to know that Dr. Buck wanted her to get a hired hand. She is also very tired of working in her sick condition. How hard it must be for her. Now that I mention it, I realize that throughout the book, Zeena is looked down upon because of how she acts. But if you think about it, all her action are mostly reasonable. She hates Mattie cause she’s jealous, just like any girl would be. And she asks for all these medications because she wants to feel better. She wants to be free of her terrible sickness. Isn’t this all normal?

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    1. maddy

      I also noticed how quickly Ethan’s consideration for Zeena diminished when Mattie was mentioned. Although it is possible that Zeena replaced Mattie with a hiring girl partially out of jealousy, the predominant reason is because of her health, which Ethan overlooked due to his feelings for Mattie.

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  8. tarika1

    Something I found interesting in the last chapter of this book is how Zeena took Mattie back. After the accident happened, the sick Zeena who was getting sicker everyday, helped Mattie and Ethan while also taking care of herself. She has to do this all by herself when she was going to send off Mattie anyway. Ethan insisted to go with Mattie despite Zeena disagreeing, and he got into an accident. It must be hard for Zeena to take care of herself, but now she has to take care of two more people.

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  9. maddy

    While reviewing the conclusion of “Ethan Frome”, I noticed further foreshadowing regarding the sledding accident. On page one hundred, Mattie wept to Ethan of how she often wished for death. One may have found Mattie’s revelation to be of a surprising nature due to her persistently optimistic and cheery temperament. It is probable that Edith Wharton intended this revelation to be indicative of the sledding accident, a proceeding occurrence regarding suicide. After all, this was Ethan and Mattie’s last conversation prior to their reaching the top of School House Hill.

    Rereading this novella has led me to question the motives behind Ethan and Mattie’s suicide attempt. I do not think that they attempted to off themselves because they could not bear the thought of living without one another. Rather, I believe that they were primarily induced to do so because they hated their lives, and were tired of living. When Mattie was persuading Ethan into offing themselves, she brought up how she would have nowhere to go now that Zeena had replaced her with a hired girl. Mattie was tired of feeling like a useless vagabond whom no one cared for, especially since she was so unsure of her future. On page one hundred and five, during Mattie’s pleas to Ethan of lethally ramming into the elm, Ethan thought, “The words were like fragments torn from his heart. With them came the hated vision of the house he was going back to—of the stairs he would have to go up every night, of the woman who would wait for him there. And the sweetness of Mattie’s avowal… made the other vision more abhorrent, the other life more intolerable to return to.” This quotation depicts that likewise Mattie, Ethan additionally hated his life. He saw no purpose or joy in pursuing it. Thus, I doubt that Ethan and Mattie attempted to off themselves merely or predominantly to be with each other. If they had been more satisfied with their lives, it is improbable that the sledding accident would have transpired.

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    1. francescaa

      I somewhat agree with what you said about why Ethan and Mattie committed suicide. Ethan did in fact seem tired of living. His career didn’t work out, his wife got sick and he was a poor and unhappy man. As for Mattie, she didn’t have anyone to live for. She had no relatives and just got kicked out of the house she had called “home” for years. So I definitely see where you are coming from by saying that statement.

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  10. faithw

    I’ve been pondering a question. Why was Ethan trying to kill himself? Was it like Romeo and Juliet, two people so in love that they couldn’t stand the thought of life without each other? Or was the suicide mission merely a plan for Ethan to try to escape his tragic life? While Mattie might have loved Ethan like Juliet loved Romeo, Ethan, in my opinion, did not love Mattie nearly as much. I believe that Ethan may have loved her a little, but it was not the overwhelming love that Romeo experienced. Ethan’s relationship was based more on lust for Mattie than love. I think that Ethan’s attempt to end his life was motivated by the opportunity to run away from his problems.

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  11. cameronl3

    Along with Tarik, what struck me the most about the ending was how Zeena not only let Mattie stay after the accident, but she took care of her, along with Ethan. Not only did she take care of them, but she also needed to take care of herself. When reading this I saw a complete opposiye type of Zeena from her actions, as she was planning to make Mattie leave. Instead, she did a huge job in taking care of the two, while in need of help for her health as well. It was not only kind of her, but it was most likely a troubling job, as she was unable to rest as often as she usually does.

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  12. avae1

    After reading the conclusion to “Ethan Frome” for a second time, what I found interesting was the repetition of different star constellations and aspects of the moon in Ethan’s descriptions. I noticed that in the first paragraph of the first chapter, the constellation of Orion was mentioned, “In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires.”(p.17) On this night, Ethan’s journey and relationship with Mattie truly began. Stars are often associated with dreams and wishes. So perhaps these stars can be a symbol for Ethan’s desires? Not only his desire to pursue his career, but also his yearning for Mattie’s love. When he witnessed these stars on their night together, it is possible that Ethan felt a greater sense of hope for his future with Mattie. He has also compared Mattie’s hair to “a drift of mist on the moon,”(p.61) displaying his infatuation with her features.

    After the failed suicide attempt, Ethan laid on the ground with many thoughts going through his mind. One of those thoughts was, “The sky was still thick, but looking straight up he saw a single star, and tried vaguely to reckon whether it were Sirius, or–or–.”(p.108) Similar to the beginning, he noticed the night sky. Although instead of a whole constellation, there was only one. This appeared to be Ethan’s last glimpse of this single star, or his life with Mattie, because after this event both were no longer confident in their dreams. Reality sank in, and there was no possibility of them ever being together.

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  13. charlottes

    As I reread the end of the novella, questions about Ethan swarmed my mind. Did Ethan really want to commit suicide just to be with Mattie, or was there another hidden reason? I believe that the other reason he agreed to kill himself was to get out of his awful life. After Mattie leaves, he will have no one to really love. He is married to Zeena, but throughout the book, he refers to Zeena as cold and dark. Instead of Mattie now, there would be a hired caretaker. Maybe he didn’t really love Zenna as much as he said. And after the experience with him and Mattie, Zeena and his relationship will be forever hurt. She has seen her husband spend time, love and almost kill himself over another woman. Without Mattie there, how is Zeena going to feel about Ethan’s love for her? He has shown that he doesn’t really love her anymore, so what is Zeena going to do about that? She wouldn’t divorce him. So she’d be stuck with a husband who she knows doesn’t love her to the full potential. Ethan’s motivation to kill himself wasn’t just for his endless love for Mattie, but for escapism of his horrible life.

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  14. francescaa

    After finishing re-reading Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton I feel as though I have a better grasp of the text and can connect this book to other novellas. Before Mattie and Ethan Killed themselves they went on a trip down memory lane. Instead of taking her to the train station he takes Mattie to Shallow Pond. Here is where they ate together at a church picnic by the fallen log. “He looked up and down the pebbly beach till his eye lit on a fallen tree-trunk half submerged in snow. ‘This is where we sat at the picnic.” (p.97). This was also a memorable moment for the two because this was where Ethan found Mattie’s lost locket in the moss. This event reminded me of Of Mice and Men right before George killed Lennie. In Lennie’s final moments George rehearsed the tale of “how it’s gonna be”. In both stories the main character tells the person that is about to die a memory.
    Aside from the similarities between the two books, I found a theme. The theme is, intentions don’t always come out the way as planned. From the beginning of the book Ethan appeared to be this unhappy man who had nothing really going for him. His wife was ill, he was in an unhappy relationship and he was poor. When he and Mattie decided to commit suicide it was an action to free themselves from the current life they were living. (Credits to Maddie’s blog). In the end Ethan and Mattie’s suicide attempt failed; they lived. Their attempt to make things better actually made their lives worse than before. Mattie and Ethan ended up crippled. This goes to show that things don’t always turned out the way as expected.

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    1. eshap

      I completely agree with the connection you made with “Of Mice and Men”. I hadn’t noticed how these two parts were similar.

      Reply
  15. Rebecca F

    Ethan Frome ends by returning to the perspective of the mysterious narrator as he enters the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen, the droning voice ceases. The narrator notices two old women, one of whom seems to be unable to move. After listening to one of the woman speak, the narrator is able to attribute her with the unpleasant, droning voice. What a surprise it must be then to learn that the “droning voice”, is Mattie! It had always been Zeena that droned on and on, complaining of her aches and pains. Yet it is the once beautiful and lively Mattie that drones now, complaining that it is cold and Zeena did not stoke the fire.
    As discussed in class, Mattie has now become a second Zeena. Ethan tried to trade Zeena for Mattie and instead got two Zeenas. Ethan’s “escape” has become another shackle, one chain for each leg.

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  16. alexo

    Just like others have said, the most interesting part of the story was how relaxed Zeena was about everything that had happened. She let Mattie stay and took care of them. Is Zeena fond of them? If I were Zeena I wouldn’t want to see them another day in my life, but Zeena helped Ethan and Mattie when no one else most likely would.

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  17. Kathrynr

    “Do not swear by the moon, for she changes constantly. then your love would also change.”

    -Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

    After re-reading Ethan Frome I have a new appreciation for Edith Wharton’s authors crafts moves.. Just like in Of Mice and Men the beginning and endings have many similar aspects. For instance In the end we hear the droning voice like in the beginning. While reading the book most of us probably saw this as insignificant and forgot about it. We eventually talked about this in class after we had finished it. We all thought this was Zeena but it was actually Mattie.

    I want to try to continue upon an idea that Mrs. Quinson brought up to some of the groups. There was some question about the genre of Ethan Frome. When we talked about it I saw it as having multiple genres. I saw it as realistic fiction, romance, and horror. This isn’t a true story but it could have happened. Also it tells the love story of Ethan and Mattie. Many people were saying that this couldn’t be a romance novel because it does not end on a happy note. This does not mean it is not a romance however. One of the greatest and most famous love stories in literature is Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet has a famous ending in which the couple dies among others. I think that the genre of any book is up for interpretation. For Ethan Frome it can be looked at in many ways. If you look at Ethan Frome as if it is a horror you see a couple things differently. Ethan is trying to escape from Zeena by his love for Mattie. In the end however Mattie and him do not find love, and Mattie “becomes Zeena”. Ethan is now stuck living with the pain of his injury, his job, his wife, and now he has to deal with Mattie. The quote above talks about love and how it changes. This is similar to Ethan and his love for Ethan and Mattie. My question is: Is it possible to love two people at once? Also if it is who did Ethan love more, or did he feel the same about both?

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  18. laurena2

    In the last few chapters of rereading Ethan Frome, I noticed a reoccurring theme of secrets. When Mattie suggested the idea of committing suicide together, did Ethan really want to die to be with Mattie? I believe that what Ethan really thought, but was trying to keep to himself was that he really wanted to get away from Zeena. There is a huge difference between wanting to be with Mattie and not wanting to be with Zeena.

    I also noticed that after Ethan and Mattie attempted to commit suicide together, they were very ill. Zeena took on the role of their caregiver, but didn’t she previously need a caregiver for her “sickness?” Just like Ethan, was Zeena taking advantage of every opportunity to get away from Ethan that she could? Did Zeena fake her illness? If so, why would she fake an illness?

    Based on all the secrets being kept, it is safe to assume that Ethan and Zeena never got along particularly well. They didn’t keep a healthy marriage and never seemed interested in each other. Why marry someone you don’t love and want to spent the rest of your life with?

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  19. marinas1

    As the novella “Ethan Frome came to a close, I was truly struck by how weak and childlike Mattie is made out to be. This is quite ironic, for the quote commonly associated with her is “‘I ain’t afraid!'” At the very end of the novella, when Ethan and Mattie are thinking of ways as to not be separated, Mattie says, “‘Right into the big elm. You said you could. So’t we’d never have to leave each other any more.'” (p.109). In this quote, Mattie sees the only answer to cease separation between her and Ethan as death. That is an extremely childish idea. She had not even thought it through. For some reason, her only answer to quite the complex problem, a problem that requires some thought to be solved, is killing herself, an outrageous and impulsive idea. This correlates to another passage from the beginning of the novel. Edith Wharton writes, “The motions of her mind were as incalculable as the flit of a bird in the branches.” (p.30). In this quote, Edith Wharton is portraying Mattie as an impulsive human being, one that can flip from one idea straight to another. This contributes to hr decision in killing herself with Ethan. In this way, she does not sound like a twenty year old woman, but a thirteen year old girl.

    Along with her impulsiveness, Mattie is not dipicted as a regular twenty year old woman. She worked in a store, and ended up getting horribly sick. Ethan Frome states, “‘You know you can’t do it. The bad air and the standing all day nearly killed you before.'” (p.98) This seems so childish. Mattie can not hold a job in a store because the air is bad, and she is a pretty terrible aid to Zeena. In a way, I think that Mattie delights in Ethan taking care of her, because she can not bare a life where she isn’t taken care of. This is extremely true, for after the accident she requires everyone’s aid due to her spinal disease (among other things). When she gets this aid, she complains about everything and is most certaintly ungrateful. Although Mrs. Hale thinks that Mattie’s personality turned sour after the accident, I think that Mattie just adored having someone taking care of her, and once she acquired that, she became ungrateful, just as she had been dipicted previously in the novella.

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  20. margauxc

    Light is the antithesis of darkness, similar to how Mattie Silver’s character counters the nature of Zenobia Frome. Zenobia, as depicted numerous times throughout the novel, embodies the darkness- which is peculiar seeing as Ethan’s affair with Mattie manifests primarily in the darkness. According to Mattie, her affections first started to arise at Shadow Pond- and shadows are technically extensions of darkness. Their affair also comes to an end during the night, and after re-reading the first ending to Edith Wharton’s “Ethan Frome”, it can be noted that Mattie was concerned at first about how neither of them could see very well in the dark. This can possibly tie into their relationship as well, seeing as neither of them really see what’s coming whenever both of them are together- neither of them thought they would survive and neither of them thought misery would rule over their future together.

    During chapter IX of “Ethan Frome”, the setting is portrayed through the statement, “Under the open sky the light was still clear, with a reflection of cold red on the eastern hills.” After further analysis, it can be inferred that the deeper meaning of the text is that, before the “smash-up” and before Mattie revealed her true feelings, Ethan (the light) was still thinking clearly and not impulsively. “A reflection of cold red on the eastern hills” could possibly relate back to Mattie, seeing as she has personified the color red several times beforehand. The “cold red” could foreshadow Mattie’s coldness towards Ethan after the accident, while “eastern hills” could represent that the opposite of what Ethan had wanted for his future was about to come true. Initially, Ethan intended to go west with Mattie and pursue a new life. Though the detail could merely be insignificant, the direction of the cold red reflection could definitely be symbolic.

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  21. George

    What I thought was interesting was the sudden decision to kill themselves on the teee at the bottom of the slope. It seems like something more powerful and divine may be keepinf Ethan on this wath just to toy with him by giving him a horrid and dreadful life. However the sudden decision is sort of Romeo Juliet esk don’t you think. The funny part is that when they actually hit the tree they just end up hurt. Maybe this is a sign that Mattie and Ethan were never ment to be and if they were to run off there would be more unfortunate events just like this one.

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  22. Esha Pandya

    I would like to build off the idea of colors. Zeena wears black the color of mourning and death which she seems to be, also nurses wore them in olden days and she is a doctor. Mattie wears red which is lust and blood but what circulates blood? the heart. She is the heart basically.

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  23. eshap

    I’m sorry- I don’t know why that posted instead of what I had typed up:

    After reading Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, a second time, I realized how Ethan was afraid to follow his instincts. Throughout the novella, Ethan had always considered many factors before following through with an action. A majority of what prevented him was Zeena; he knew that she wouldn’t see a way that wasn’t her own. As a result, Ethan never did what he fully wanted.

    For example, when Zeena made plans for Mattie’s departure, Ethan had no say in the decision at all. It was already decided that Mattie would leave, and a new girl would come. He tried to tell Zeena that he didn’t want Mattie to leave, and considered several times to talk Mattie out of going along with Zeena’s plans. However, each time, he could never find the right words to say without fear of them being contradicted. “Words of resistance rushed to Ethan’s lips and died there.” (page 92) Ethan desperately wanted to say something that would make Mattie reconsider. But no matter what he said, or did, it was ultimately Zeena’s decision that decide what would happen, and she wouldn’t change her determination to get rid of Mattie. After contemplating this, Ethan realized there was no hope in trying to get Mattie to stay.

    Later on, when Mattie and Ethan decide to run into the elm tree, Ethan shows he couldn’t completely follow through with his instincts once again. After making their plan, Ethan and Mattie climb into the sled, ready to let their lives end. As they are descending towards the tree, Ethan tries to concentrate on hitting the tree, and not anything else. Although, Zeena enters his mind once again. “But suddenly his wife’s face…thrust itself between him and his goal, and he made an instinctive movement to brush it aside.” (page 107) Even though Ethan managed to rid his mind of his wife, she was still part of his decision to escape life. No matter what he does, Ethan can’t follow through with his instincts without thinking of what Zeena might think. Should Ethan have been unable to push the thought of Zeena away, he would’ve considered avoiding the big elm tree.

    Through Ethan’s thoughts, it can be seen that he cannot stand up for himself without consideration of Zeena, among other things. Edith Wharton clearly displays this in several scenes within the novella. By being afraid to act out, Ethan is portrayed as weak. He needs someone to encourage him, such as when Mattie had to plant the idea of crashing into the elm tree into him. Therefore, Ethan Frome, afraid to act on his own, always takes someone else’s opinion into consideration.

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  24. alekhya

    After rereading Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton I noticed a change in my perspective of Zeena’ character.

    After my first read, Zeena was the antagonist; the one who angered and troubled the main character, the one who brought misery to the lives of Ethan and Mattie. With his attachment to Mattie clouding his head, Ethan begins to see Mattie as all the happiness in his life and Zeena as a every morsel of misery and failure. “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.” (75) Based upon his thoughts it is clear that the villain of Ethan Frome, at least through the narrator’s perspective, is Zeena.

    But after rereading Ethan Frome I noticed small bits and details that led me to think.. Perhaps Zeena does care about Mattie and Ethan, and is not the antagonist but a victim of Ethan’s infidelity? “When his wife first proposed that they give Mattie an occasional evening out…” (21) Ethan sees in Mattie what he has lost, but perhaps he lost his happiness after the death of his parents. When he found happiness he began to believe that the loss of it had been a result of Zeena’s arrival.

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  25. Tyler Newby

    Having finished my re-read of “Ethan Frome”, I have noticed more about Ethan’s relationship with Mattie. Many have been discussing whether or not Ethan really loves Mattie or if he wants to use her as an excuse to get away from his miserable life. I believe that Ethan really loves Mattie. In chapter one, when Ethan is waiting to pick up Mattie from the dance, he “had been straining for a glimpse of the dark head under the cherry-coloured scarf and it vexed him that another eye should have been quicker than his. The leader of the reel, who looked as if he had Irish blood in his veins, danced well, and his partner caught his fire. As she passed down the line, her light figure swinging from hand to hand in circles of increasing swiftness, the scarf flew off her head and stood out behind her shoulders, and Frome, at each turn, caught sight of her laughing panting lips, the cloud of dark hair about her forehead, and the dark eyes which seemed the only fixed points in a maze of flying lines.” If Ethan did not really love Mattie he would not look at her in such a way and he would not be so obsessive over her. Also, in chapter six, after Ethan and Mattie’s relationship has grown, he became irrationally happy around her. “He did not know why he was so irrationally happy, for nothing was changed in his life or hers. He had not even touched the tip of her fingers or looked her full in the eyes. But their evening together had given him a vision of what life at her side might be, and he was glad now that he had done nothing to trouble the sweetness of the picture.” Ethan also tried to commit suicide with Mattie when he knew that he had no chance of being with her anymore. I believe, even if Ethan is being a tad creepy, he still acts as though he loves Mattie.

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  26. willowm

    One scene I thought was interesting was when Ethan and Mattie were on their way to the Flats. I think that Mattie and Ethan’s relationship is symbolized by the sun. On their journey, the sun began to set, as did their relationship. Later in the ride they decide to go down the slope like they always planned on doing but never got to. After the ride they kissed, and Wharton writes, “Once he found her mouth again, and they seemed to be by the pond together in the burning August sun.” (pg 105) I think believe when the sun was strongest, that was when their relationship was strongest. But the sun eventually sets, and even though they live out their lives together, as Mrs. Hale states, “I don’t see’s there’s much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard…” (pg 114) They are not truly living.

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  27. adam

    Finishing the novel, I still cannot understand the reason behind Ethan and wanting to kill himself. Was it a plead for freedom, trying to escape Zeena? Or was it a way to cope with not being with Mattie? Either way, I do not think Ethan should have any reason to kill himself. He had been married to Zeena, but still having infatuation for Mattie, did not know what to do and was stuck in that situation not knowing what to do. This can relate to the 7 year idea, as he is 7 years older than Mattie and 7 younger than Zeena. So, he was in the middle of situations and was overwhelmed, and did not know how to solve his problem. Attempted suicide by Ethan was an attempt to get rid of all the problems and confusion in his life and not have to deal with it any more. He did not want to be without Mattie, so he thought. even though Zeena proved to be caring (for some reason) at the end. Maybe she knew what happened? The end of this books brings up many new discussions.

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  28. ivanl

    As we read the end of the novel, I found it interesting that of all the other choices Ethan had, he chose to commit suicide with Mattie by sledding into a tree. Deeply saddened that he cannot be with Mattie when Zeena sends her away, they both agree they cannot be without each other and say they would rather die before parting ways. I feel Mattie and Ethan both do this out of desperation, Mattie has nowhere else to go without Ethan, and Ethan is stuck in his unhappy relationship with Zeena that he is otherwise unable to escape. They are unable to kill themselves, and now Zeena who was sick before the incident has to care for both of them as well as herself. After everything, they all end up being unhappy, all of them injured in some way, was attempted suicide really the best idea for Ethan and Mattie?

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