When the door of her room had closed on her he remembered that he had not even touched her hand.

This evening, I am not providing you with a specific topic to discuss.  Instead, please pursue your own ideas and theories about Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Ethan Frome 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 conversations.

Ethan Frome blog #3

 

41 thoughts on “When the door of her room had closed on her he remembered that he had not even touched her hand.

  1. In these three chapters, Zeena leaves to see a doctor in Bettsbridge, leaving Mattie and Ethan to spend a couple nights together. Ethan, obviously, is happy about this situation, as he gets to spend time with Mattie, and maybe get her to be more affectionate toward him. However, it does not exactly go the way he planned, as Zeena’s beloved pickle-jar is broken by the cat, and that he embarrassed himself by saying a thing out of the blue, about Ruth and Ned. “‘ I saw a friend of yours getting kissed.’ The words had been on his tongue all the evening, but now that he had spoken them they struck him as inexpressibly vulgar and out of place”( pp. 57). Ethan was trying to say this to make up a conversation between them, but it ended up being awkward. At the end of the day, he realized that he had forgot to do something that was very important, and that was to touch Mattie’s hand. This whole day shows how Ethan’s love for Mattie is very faulty, and cannot be accomplished.

    Questions
    Does Mattie know that Ethan likes her? Does she have a way of finding out?
    Why is Ethan trying if he knows that he will never get her?

  2. After reading chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Ethan Frome, there is a lot more background on the main characters of the novel. We learn a lot more about Ethan’s marriage and relationship with Zenobia. Originally, Zenobia came to help Ethan take care of his mother, and it is revealed that she is Ethan’s cousin. Ethan took a particular fondness to her as she provided him company and when the time came for her to leave, Ethan objected and they were soon married. However, after a while, Zeena, “too fell silent. Perhaps it was the inevitable effect of life on the farm, or perhaps, as she sometimes said, it was because Ethan “never listened.” (pg. 45). The charge was not wholly unfounded.” This shows me the root of the painful marriage that Ethan is stuck in. It is revealed to the reader that Zeena soon became uninteresting after the marriage, leading the marriage between them to become boring, and therefore loveless. We also learn more about the real love interest of Ethan, Mattie Silver. From last night’s reading, we gleaned that she was sent to the Fromes from Connecticut, but we learn much more from tonight. This is shown when, “Mattie Silver was the daughter of a cousin of Zenobia Frome’s, who had inflamed his clan with mingled sentiments of envy and admiration by descending from the hills to Connecticut… Unhappily Orin Silver, a man of far-reaching aims, had died too soon to prove that the end justifies the means.” (pg. 37). Mattie, who is relatively new to the area, immediately catches Ethan’s attention. Although Zenobia seems visibly suspicious of him, I find it odd she does not say anything, or confront Ethan. Going into the next few chapters, it will be interesting to see how Zeena and Mattie effect Ethan Frome.

    Two questions I have from tonight’s reading are:

    Will something happen to Zeena while she is away? There is a lot of emphasis throughout tonight’s reading on her trip and departure from Ethan and Mattie, leading me to wonder if something bad will happen to her while she is gone.

    If Ethan knows he is trapped in a loveless marriage with Zeena with no way out, why even bother trying to go after Mattie? It makes me wonder if he has another motive for his relationship with Mattie.

    These questions could really help to clear up some muddled text points, and I believe they should be addressed in class.

    • Great response Matt! I was a little confused about the whole “Zenobia” thing, but your response cleared that up for me. Great work!

  3. When Zeena is in need to see a doctor, Ethan makes up an excuse so he can spend the night with Mattie. He tells her that he needed to collect cash for the lumber. He immediately regrets saying this because Zeena would probably be expecting extra cash when she returns home. “He knew that Zeena must be wondering why he did not offer to drive her to the Flats and let Jotham Powell take the lumber to Starkfield, and at first he could not think of a pretext for not doing so; then he said: ‘I’d take you over myself, only I’ve got to collect the cash for the lumber,’” (page 41). Zeena doesn’t seem to hear this, but still agrees to have Jotham Powell drive her instead. So, Ethan Frome once again makes the decision to leave his wife and stay with Mattie Silver. To try to get the extra cash he said he would bring, he asks Andrew Hale for money. However, Frome goes home empty-handed, as Hale’s business isn’t doing so good, and had no money to give.
    When Frome comes home, he spends the whole night talking and laughing with Mattie. “The two leaned forward at the same moment and their hands met on the handle of the jug. Mattie’s hand was underneath, and Ethan kept his clasped on it a moment longer than was necessary,” (page 53). It all goes well until the pickle-dish falls into pieces. Because this is a dish Zeena and Ethan received for their wedding, Mattie starts to cry, and thinks of al the punishments Zeena will give her. “‘Oh, Ethan, Ethan—it’s all to pieces! What will Zeena say?’”(page 53).
    After this incident, a certain section really caught my eye. The text states, “Yes. I shouldn’t wonder if they got married some time along in the summer,’” (page 58). Mattie knows that Ethan is in love with him and knows that he want to be with her. Although the text states that she said “married” lovingly, Mattie was trying to emphasize the word “married”. She knows that falling in love with a married person is wrong, and is hinting at Ethan and reminding him that he is a married man.

    • Nice job, Ellie. I didn’t really realize that was why Mattie emphasized that word, but thanks for pointing that out.

    • I like that you thought of her emphasizing the word married like that because she was trying to hint at him that what was happening was wrong. I believe that Ethan understands that because he is married, that falling in love with Mattie is wrong. I think that Ethan is just trying to figure out if he cares that it is wrong or not.

  4. In chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Ethan Frome, we get to see more of the interactions between Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena. We also start to see how complicated Ethan situation with Mattie is. It seems like Ethan can never get a firm hold on Mattie, as her moods are always changing. In the beginning, Zeena claims to be ill, and prepares to travel to Bettsbridge to meet a doctor. Ethan wanting to spend an evening alone with Mattie, he lies and says he needs to collect money from Andrew Hale to get out of having to drive her. After coming back empty-handed, Ethan comes back to his home, where a rollercoaster of events unfold. At first, Mattie seems ecstatic, then is spiteful at Ethan’s asking who else came by, then cries when a plate is shattered. Ethan is able to glue the plate back together until he can replace it, which makes both of them much happier. “Completely reassured, she shone on him through tear-hung lashes, and his soul swelled with pride as he saw how his tone subdued her.” Like Ethan says, it seems as if Mattie’s mood or tone changes with every turn of her head. As they talk about Zeena. marriage, and kissing, the atmosphere also gets quite awkward. Finally, after Ethan decides to kiss the end of Mattie’s work, they both go to sleep. Ethan remembers that he had not even touched her hand – forget his goal to kiss her, he wasn’t even able to touch her at all. “When the door of her room had closed on her he remembered that he had not even touched her hand.” The feelings in between them seem to constantly fluctuate. One day they would be close and comfortable together, and another it would be extremely awkward and tense.

    Questions:
    Does Mattie love Ethan back?
    What will happen when Ethan does not have the money to back up what he said earlier?

    • Great job! I liked how you summarized the chapters and I really wonder why he lied and said he needed to go to Andrew Hale. Great questions! I think that Mattie loves Ethan back and I don’t know what will happen if Ethan doesn’t have the money.

  5. Ethan’s relationships with Mattie and Zeena are shown and revealed more in these chapters. We now know that Zeena was once Ethan’s love interest, just like Mattie is now. Zeena was intriguing and interesting to Ethan, but after the two got married, Zeena became uninteresting and bland. This led to their relationship coming to a stop and becoming boring and with no love. “Then she too fell silent…When she spoke it was only to complain, and to complain of things not in his power to remedy;.”(Pg. 45). Instead, his attention turned to another woman in Mattie Silver. From their evening together, we learn that Mattie has some feelings toward Ethan, as she takes the time to set up a nice dinner for the two of them. But, in doing this, she also takes out one of Zeena’s prized possessions, in a pickle dish. Unfortunately for Mattie, her efforts come back to haunt her, as their cat accidentally knocks the dish over, breaking it in pieces. Mattie’s happiness and excitement had now turned to anguish and fear of what Zeena would do when she found out. “Mattie, in an instant, had sprung from her chair and was down on her knees by the fragments.’Oh, Ethan, Ethan—it’s all to pieces! What will Zeena say?”(Pg. 53). Mattie still seems to be pretty young, as she still has mood swings and cannot really control her emotions. Ethan’s love triangle is a very tough situation to be in, and it looks like has married the complete wrong person.

    • Great job, Will. You did a great job at portraying the characters and providing new insight into them from these chapters. I especially liked the part you said about Mattie, being still young and immature. Great post!

  6. In these chapters we get to see a little more about Ethan’s love for Mattie. Zeena goes to a different town to see a doctor. This leaves Mattie and Ethan alone and from the minute Zeena leaves all Ethan can think about is his night with Mattie. “And he pictured what it would be like that evening, when he and Mattie were there after supper. (pg.42)” Ethan finishes up his work and returns home to Mattie who has the table set for dinner. They sit down as the cat approaches the table. Both lean in to get the cat some milk. “The cat, profiting by this unusual demonstration, tried to effect an unnoticed retreat, and in doing so backed into the pickle-dish, which fell to the floor with a crash.(pg.53)” This was a rough start to their night because this pickle dish was prized by Zeena and Mattie went into an immediate panic. Ethan helps pick up the fragments and he puts it back on the shelf. This comforts Mattie and they finish dinner and go into the living room. Mattie is sewing and the night is going almost exactly how Ethan pictured. The two were talking and “Her glance fell on his hand, which now completely covered the end of her work and grasped it as if it were a part of herself. He saw a scarcely perceptible tremor cross her face, and without knowing what he did he stooped his head and kissed the bit of stuff in his hold. As his lips rested on it he felt it glide slowly from beneath them, and saw that Mattie had risen and was silently rolling up her work.(pg.60)” This was a really awkward thing to do and Mattie felt uncomfortable. She did the nightly chores and went to bed. Overall, this night was a bust. Ethan didn’t get to touch her hand in the romantic way he hoped but rather on the handle of a milk jug. We also get some possible foreshadowing on how the “smash-up” may happened. As mentioned before there is a elm tree in a dangerous place on Corbury road. “Would you be scared to go down the Corbury road with me on a night like this?” he asked. Her cheeks burned redder. ‘I ain’t more scared than you are!’ ‘Well, I’d be scared,then; I wouldn’t do it. That’s an ugly corner down by the big elm. If a fellow didn’t keep his eyes open he’d go plumb into it.’(pg.57)” Because this spot has been mentioned twice this may be a sign that Ethans accident may occur here.
    Questions:
    Where do you think Ethans accident happens? Does it happen on Corbury road?
    Does Mattie like Ethan and is just too afraid because of Zeena or is she interested in Denis Eady?

    • Good job! I love your discussion questions. I was also thinking that Ethan’s accident would occur on Corbury road since it is mentioned twice. Keep up the great work. 🙂

  7. In chapters 3-5 of Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, we learn more about Ethan’s relationships with Mattie and Zeena. We are given the background of Ethan’s relationship and marriage with Zeena. First and foremost, it is revealed that Zeena is actually Ethan’s cousin, and she helped him take care of his ill mother. Fearing the return of his loneliness when his mother died, Ethan instantly asked Zeena to marry him. Ethan made the mistake of choosing to marry someone, without fully knowing them. If Ethan had gotten to know Zeena more, he could have immediately left her and pursued someone he actually loved. This could have prevented this entire situation, and result in a “good” marriage. As a result of Ethan poor marriage choice, he loves another woman that is not his wife. That other woman is indeed Mattie “Matt” Silver. Mattie has been sent from Connecticut and has caught Ethan attention from the moment he saw her. Finally, Mattie accidentally breaks one of Zeena’s pickle dish. Mattie began crying with Ethan reassuring him that everything will be okay. Ethan proceeds to say that Zeena won’t find out and that he will buy another one. This raises a red flag because Ethan is going to back up Mattie. Instead of telling Zeena that Mattie broke the dish, Ethan is going to buy another one to replace it for the sake of Mattie. This doesn’t seem right to me, and I wonder what more will happen between Ethan and Mattie. I hope to learn more about this novel in the upcoming chapters.
    Discussion Questions:
    Will Ethan ever kiss Mattie? If so, how would Zeena react if she found out?
    If Ethan had more time to get to know Zeena, would he still marry her? (Or if he could go back in time?)

    • You said that it doesn’t seem right of Ethan to replace the pickle dish, but do you think it could make Zeena happy because she really doesn’t loose her pickle dish, and it could show affection towards her when she has been feeling neglected?

  8. Chapter 3, 4, and 5 are beneficial to our understanding of Ethan Frome. In chapter 3 Zeena decides to leave and go to town to see a new doctor and get some other remedy for her various ailments. Throughout the conversation about this Ethan cannot keep his eyes off Mattie. “Ethan roused himself to answer. He became suddenly conscious that he was looking at Mattie while Zeena talked to him, and with an effort he turned his eyes to his wife.”Afterwards, in the next chapter, we learn about Zeena. She was Ethan’s cousin and came to live with him when his mother went ill. Home task that came difficulty to Ethan went easily to her. When Ethan’s mother finally died, Ethan asked Zeena to live with him to avoid loneliness. They became married and planned to move away from their rural life and try their luck in a town. Unfortunately, their movement was delayed and things happened slower than expected which added to the delay. Zeena stopped talking and eventually got sick which put an end to Ethan’s hopes of moving.

    “After the funeral, when he saw her preparing to go away, he was seized with an unreasoning dread of being left alone on the farm; and before he knew what he was doing he had asked her to stay there with him… When they married, it was agreed that, as soon as he could straighten out the difficulties resulting from Mrs. Frome’s long illness, they would sell the farm and saw-mill and try their luck in a large town. “ In the last chapter, Ethan has a private dinner with Mattie. The dinner begins with the cat breaking a precious pickle jar that Zeena received as a wedding gift. After dinner, Ethan sits near Mattie and tries to bring her to kiss him. He sadly fails, ending the night with her going to sleep early and thinking less of him.

    As we noticed earlier Zeena is very observant. When she gets back what will she assume happened and what will she think? Ethan is also stuck in a marriage with Zeena when he wants to be with Mattie, how can Ethan get together with the girl he really loves?

  9. In this chapter we learn much more about Ethan, and also about his relationships with Mattie and his relationship in the past with Zeena and how it had changed over time. Something interesting I noticed about Ethan was that he has quite a bit of pride. When discussing recieving some money from Andrew Hale, Andrew asks him if he’s in a tight place and it says, “‘Not a bit’, Ethan’s pride retorted before his reason had time to intervene.” This tells us as readers that at times Ethan’s pride comes before his ability to reason, and that he is embarrassed of seeming less than everyone else. In this chapter we devolve more into Ethan and Zeena’s past. It’s clear as day that Ethan has grown bored and tired of Zeena. It says that a year after the weeding is when she got sickly and I assume this is what sparked their marital issues. She is now bland and boring and when Ethan is thinking in regards to his parent’s 50 years of marriage he remarks how long that is and how hi seven years with Zeena has felt painfully longer. It seems as though part of him resents Zeena. So when he’s with Mattie he seems lighter, happier and overall just less tense. Mattie also seems to reciprocate some of Ethan’s adoration, seeing how she made a home cooked dinner for the two. The dinner did not go as planned because Mattie breaks one of Zeena’s wedding gifts and Ethan attempts to repair. It’s almost like a metaphor, Mattie is coming in and shattering Zeena’s marriage and Ethan is going to have to put the pieces back together in a crude manner that will never quite return to it’s original state.
    DQ: Will Ethan ever pursue Mattie? How would Zeena react? How would Mattie? Would she be okay with it since she believes Zeena hates her?

  10. In tonights reading of chapters 3,4, and 5, in the novella, Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, Zeena leaves to go see a doctor in Bettsberg. While this is happening, Ethan is home alone with Mattie which makes him ectatic. During this time, Mattie made Ethan and herself a nice meal, except all goes wrong when the cat breaks Zeena’s pickle-jar which is one of a kind. After this, the whole day goes downhill and Ethan starts talking to Mattie about her marrying someone else. Throughout this whole seen the cat sits in Zeena’s chair and is always next to them. This cat intrigues me in a sense that the cat is almost supervising Ethan and Mattie. I wonder why the cat was always next to them. Could it be that the cat will be an author’s craft move or a theme. Anyways, as Ethan and Mattie talk about marriage, the cat “jumped from Zeena’s chair to dart at a mouse”. I found this funny because it’s almost as if the cat is Zeena and when they talked about Mattie seeing someone else, she was happy. Also, as it talks about love, the cat goes to the mouse which is ironic because a mouse and a cat are usually seen together chasing after each other, kinda like how Zeena is chasing Ethan and it trying to catch his attention. To conclude, I think in these chapters, the cat had a great significance.
    Some questions I have regarding this is:
    Did Zeena get in Ethan’s head which made him think about Mattie marrying someone else?
    Is the cat actually symbolizing something?
    Why was Ethan looking forward to this night even though he is already married? Is he waiting for Zeena to die and then marry Mattie?
    What happened to Zeena that she goes to so many doctors?

  11. In tonight’s reading Zeena leaves to go to another doctor, leaving Mattie and Ethan alone. I was most interested in the difference in Ethan’s behavior and Mattie’s behavior. Ethan kept trying to get close to Mattie since Zeena wasn’t there. “…the relief of knowing that his fears of ‘trouble’ with Zeena were unfounded…” (Pg. 42). Mattie on the other hand, wasn’t being as flirtatious as she usually is with Ethan. Since Mattie asked Ethan if Zeena liked her or was mad at her, I think Mattie felt kind of uncomfortable being alone with Ethan when Zeena had just locked them outside the previous night. That arises my first question of the reading tonight, does Mattie know that Ethan is in love with her? It seems so clear to us but we don’t get to see Mattie’s point of view so we don’t know for sure.
    The next part of the reading that i found interest in was the following passage:
    Silence answered; but in a minute or two he caught a sound on the stairs and saw a line of light about the door-frame, as he had seen it the night before. So strange was the precision with which the incidents of the previous evening were repeating themselves that he half expected, when he heard the key turn, to see his wife before him on the threshold; but the door opened, and Mattie faced him. (Pg. 50)
    Although Ethan knew it was Mattie coming to answer the door, he still thought that Zeena would be behind the door when it was opened. Could this mean that Ethan still has some feelings for her? It has seemed that he doesn’t show any affection towards her, but in that moment she was on his mind. Was that because Mattie was with him during the incident? I don’t know, but it is something to think about.

    Although I had these questions embedded in my response I thought I would put them down here so I could see them quickly:
    Does Mattie know that Ethan Frome is in love with her?
    Does Ethan still have feelings for Zeena or had Mattie completely taken over Ethan’s heart

  12. In chapters 3-5 of Ethan Frome, some details about Frome’s marriage with Zeena are cleared up. In my blog last night, I put in some ideas on why their relationship is so rocky. None of those ideas were right, though. The thing I don’t understand is that why would Ethan marry her? I understand he didn’t want to stay alone at the farm, but she could have stayed at his house without being married to him. They are cousins, after all. “After the funeral, when he saw her preparing to go away, he was seized with an unreasoning dred of being left alone on the farm; and before he knew what he was doing he had asked her to stay there with him.”(44) While Zeen was tending to his mother, they didn’t seem to have a growing fondness of each other, so why would he decide to marry her? It is clear that he doesn’t love her anymore, and has feelings for someone else. I am pretty sure that Ethan already knows that his relationship with Mattie can only lead to no good. He already has a wife, and cannot get a divorce. Also, it seems as if Mattie doesn’t have the same feelings for him as he does for her. During dinner, when he starts moving his hand closer to her and advises her to sit nearer, she doesn’t have the reaction that he had hoped for. “He saw a scarcely perceptible tremor cross her face, and without knowing what he did he stooped his head and kissed the bit of stuff in his hold. As his lips rested on it he felt it glide slowly from beneath them, and saw that Mattie had risen and was silently rolling up her work.”(60) I don’t think she cares about him more than as a friend, and I hope that when Ethan realizes this, he will not be too disappointed.
    1. Why does Ethan keep trying to impress Mattie when he knows that he can’t be with her since he is married?
    2. Does Zeena suspect anything going on between Ethan and Mattie? What would she do if she found out that Ethan has feelings for Mattie?

  13. Reading Chapters 3,4 and 5, it further continues the relationship or friendship between Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver.
    After complaining about her body pains, Zeena tells Ethan that she will be going to an expensive doctor. To avert the situation and to spend the night with Mattie, Ethan tells her that he has to collect the money for the lumber. However, he regrets it immediately afterwards because he has to come up with extra money., Especially after he asked Andrew Hale for extra money, and he said no, due to his business going down a slight downhill.
    Later that night, Mattie and Ethan laugh and talk about Zeena and multiple things. Its obviously clear that Ethan has very strong feelings for Mattie. So strong that he has someone else drive his wife to the doctor, so he could spend the night with another woman.
    I wonder if anything will happen to Zeena, especially since she left without Ethan and she left Ethan, on a filled slate in contrast to a clear slate. In the beginning of chapter 3 and when Mattie and Ethan chat, they talk about a storm coming up. This may be a sign of foreshadowing that something bad is going to happen very soon.

    I also wonder why Mattie doesn’t do anything about her situation with Ethan. It is crystal clear that he has feelings for her and she tries to shut it down by talking about marriage. My question is: does Mattie like Ethan like he likes her or is she doing it for the attention.

    I’m anticipating the different discussion questions we will be discussing in class.

  14. The story of Ethan Frome has certainly evolved from the story we first found it. During tonight’s reading, a particular part of the text caught my eye, “There the silence had deepened about him year by year. Left alone, after his father’s accident, to carry the burden of farm and mill, he had had no time for convivial loiterings in the village; and when his mother fell ill the loneliness of the house grew more oppressive than that of the fields.”(Page 43) This statement caught my eye because it gave some insight on why ethan Frome keeps to himself and is quiet in the future. We see that he has had a very heavy mental and physical and mental burden, as his father has had an accident, most likely killing him, and his mother has fallen ill and eventually died as well. This meant that both of his parents had died before he was 21 years old. Not only was there the emotional burden of the loss of his parents, but there was the new and daunting physical burden of running the farm completely independently. This quote adds onto a previous quote as well, “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.”(Page 10) This is that personal tragedy and loneliness in the winter that made Ethan Frome the man he is in the present.

  15. Ethan’s wife, Zeena, has let town to seek new medication. With Zeena’s leaving, Ethan and Mattie are left alone for the night. After his work, Ethan went home to have supper with Mattie. This is something that he had been looking forward to the whole day after Zeena announced her trip. The dinner was going well enough, Ethan hadn’t done anything wrong to show how much he had wanted to have this night or anything of the such. But then the cat knocked over the pickle dish that Zeena hadn’t wanted used. Mattie got very upset about this, but Ethan took care of it. And the way he had handled the situation seemed to have improved Mattie’s mood. After dinner, they eventually started talking like normal people, about normal things. Ethan had felt uncomfortable the whole night, but now he was feeling fine. It wasn’t till around ten o’clock that Ethan made his move. He tried to do something to show his love to Mattie, but didn’t because he was to nervous about it. So instead he kissed the thing that she had been working on.

    At the end, Ethan realizes that he didn’t even touch Mattie’s hand. He had a whole night alone with her, and he may have just messed up his chances with her. Not that he had much anyway, he was married to Zeena after all. But he wasn’t happy anymore, and he wanted Mattie. This night was a perfect scene to show just how far fetched his love for Mattie is. Ethan loving Mattie is understandable, but he also understands that it is impossible, which makes it all the more sad.

    DQ: How much of Ethan’s love does Mattie understand, does she love him in the same way?
    DQ: What would happen if Zeena were to die? Would Mattie and Ethan get married?

  16. Chapters 3-5 of Ethan Frome help to clarify the situation between Ethan and Zeena. That is, the details of their marriage. They met when Ethan was taking care of his mother. When she was close to dying, Zenobia came to help Ethan care for his mother. Ethan, of course, is grateful to Zenobia. After spending so long caring for his mother who rarely spoke at all (what he describes as “… the mortal silence of his long imprisonment… “ (p. 43)), he felt that “… Zeena’s volubility was music in his ears,” (p. 43). After the funeral of Ethan’s mother, he saw Zeena about to leave, until he asked her if she would like to stay in Starkfield with him. However, he only asked her to stay with him because “… he was seized with an unreasoning dread of being left alone on the farm… “ (p. 44). That would explain why their marriage seems so weak; Ethan obviously doesn’t really love Zeena. Yes, he probably cares for her, but he doesn’t have the same type of fondness for her as he does Mattie.

    Also, I just want to point out a few things that don’t really make any sense whatsoever. First off, Ethan is Zeena’s cousin, so the fact that they are married is already weird. Second, according to chapter 1, Mattie is also Zeena’s cousin. Therefore, Mattie is Ethan’s cousin. Apparently, Ethan has some family issues he needs to work out. Finally, despite the prologue saying that Mattie is Zeena’s cousin, chapter 3 strongly disagrees. It says, “Mattie Silver was the daughter of a cousin of Zenobia Frome’s…” (p. 37). That means that Mattie is both Zeena’s cousin and her niece. Therefore, she is also both Ethan’s cousin and his niece. So Ethan’s really got some family issues.

    Questions:
    1. Is Mattie Zeena’s niece or her cousin?
    2. What will happen when Zeena gets home from the doctor? Will she find out about Ethan’s fondness for Mattie?

  17. In chapters three, four and five of the novella, “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton, many important things happen. One important part is how eager Ethan is for Zeena to leave to go to the doctor. Ethan tells Zeena that he will find the money to pay for everything. He lies how he will get the money, but he wants to spend the night alone with Mattie Silver so he does whatever he can to make Zeena go away. Also, he makes someone else take Zeena there because of how badly he wishes to be with Mattie. However, once Zeena leaves, Ethan messes up his special night with Mattie with talking about other others kissing making the conversation more awkward.
    One thing I was wondering is if Zeena is cousins with Mattie and if Zeena is cousins with Ethan (I think), then are Ethan and Mattie cousins. If so, why is this never mentioned the way it is mentioned about Zeena and Ethan?
    Also, how will Zeena act once she finds her wedding gift broken? What will happen to Ethan and Mattie?

    • To answer your questions, Zeena is referred to as his cousin on the bottom of page 43. Does this make Mattie and Ethan cousins, it kind of does, but distant cousins because Mattie is really Zena’s cousin’s daughter. And I think that Zeena will find the broken gift sooner or later, and when she does, she will certainly take it out on Ethan. Maybe during that confrontation, she will express to Ethan what she feels is going on between Ethan and Mattie.

  18. In chapters 3-5 of Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, we learn more about the characters. I think that each chapter is supposed to put together a little piece of the puzzle. In chapter 3 we learned a lot about Mattie’s story. She was left with nothing after her father died, and then her mother died from the news. Additionally, since her father had cheated so many people, including her relatives, she had no one to support her financially and emotionally. “Mattie Silver was the daughter of a cousin of Zenobia Frome’s, who had inflamed his clan with mingled sentiments of envy and admiration by descending from the hills to Connecticut, where he had married a Stamford girl and succeeded to her father’s thriving ‘drug’ business. Unhappily Orin Silver, a man of far-reaching aims, had died too soon to prove that the end justifies the means. His accounts revealed merely what the means had been; and these were such that it was fortunate for his wife and daughter that his books were examined only after his impressive funeral. His wife died of the disclosure, and Mattie, at twenty, was left alone to make her way on the fifty dollars obtained from the sale of her piano.” I think that Mattie just wants what anyone would want, love and appreciation, and the person who gives her that is Ethan, even though he is married. All Ethan can think about is Mattie, and it has been made more clear that they are deeply in love. The next chapter, chapter 4 shows Ethan reflecting on his life while doing work in the house. We learn that Zeena is his cousin! He was describing his marriage to Zeena as if this would probably be his only chance. They don’t seem to have the same connection as Ethan and Mattie, and Ethan clearly feels the same way. It is hard to relate to this book because it just talks about adult issues and things that I don’t quite understand to well. I feel like Ethn should divorce Zeena, but it obviously doesn’t work that way. However, Zeena did help him with the farm. Ethan kept talking about how she was always sick after they got married, and if his mother hadn’t died, he never would have gotten into this mess in the first place. Ouch. Chapter 5 is just more of Ethan and Mattie falling in love, which is getting very repetitive in my opinion. In the end, I can clearly see that Ethan has a lot going on in his life, and I think it is very hard for him to deal with.
    My questions are:
    What is the deal with the money and Andrew Hale? I was very confused on that part.
    Does Zeena really love Ethan? Ethan clearly prefers Mattie, and I am still trying to figure out how Zeena feels towards him.

    • To answer your first question, the Andrew Hale is supposed to pay Ethan for something wood related. Even though he knows Andrew will not pay him, he uses it as an excuse to reassure Zeena about the money. (I think)

  19. In chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Ethan Frome, Ethan is left with a few nights to share between only him and Mattie while his wife was visiting a doctor. However, I think that Zeena purposefully offered for Jotham to take her to Bettsbridge, to see if Ethan would insist on taking her, or if he would allow her to go with the other man. Zener is obviously aware of the relationship that Ethan and Mattie have, so now that Ethan decides to stay back with Mattie, Zeena’s theory is correct. “If your too busy with the hauling I presume you can let Jotham Powell drive me over with the sorrel in time to ketch the train at the Flats” (pp. 40) Zeena has had a presence throughout tonight’s chapter. Before she left she said, ‘”If you can get the taste out it’ll do for pickles.” (pp. 41) and later, Ethan and Mattie had pickles for dinner. But remember, the pickles were served in a very special dish. “It was a wedding present-don’t you remember? It came all the way from Philadelphia, from Zeena’s aunt that married the minister.” (pp. 53) And when Mattie sits in Zeena’s rocking chair, she feels awkward sitting there, so she moves back to where she can see her sewing job. “…Ethan had a momentary shock. It was almost as if the other face, the face of the superseded woman, had obliterated that of the intruder.” (pp. 55) Ethan and Mattie know deep down that their relationship will never go far at all, as long as Zeena is present.

  20. If I’m honest, this book is definitely slow paced and short. Just thinking that we’re already halfway through after only three days and yet it feels so long, it’s definitely ironic after all the time we spent on Great Expectations. The passage I found interesting in tonight’s reading was in the beginning of chapter five when Mattie sits in Mrs. Zeena’s chair while she is away. “As her young brown head detached itself against the patch-work cushion that habitually framed his wife’s gaunt countenance, Ethan had a momentary shock,”(pg.55). It’s interesting how the book then goes on and describes how Ethan saw a vision for a split second, but I didn’t understand what that part really was, so that’s my first discussion question. Also, Mattie then appears uncomfortable in the chair and moves back to her original seat claiming that there was not enough lighting to sew. My second discussion question is whether or not Mattie can also understand how her and Ethan’s relationship is wrong, and does she feel guilt at times? Perhaps there was little lighting, but perhaps she realized that she was sitting in Zeena’s chair. That by her sitting down in the seat, it was too disrespectful. I wonder if there is a trust or understanding between Mattie and Mrs. Zeena.

  21. In chapters 3-5 we read about the growing relationship of Mattie and Ethan when Zeena goes away to see another doctor. Ethan is particularly happy because he will have time away from Zeena, whom he tolerates but doesn’t love. And will get time to be with Mattie the young aid, that he likes very much and wants to get to know better. For this blog I’m going to focus on Zeena because in my opinion, I feel bad for her, and think that she is not being trested well or even fairly especially for the time period that this novella seems to be taking place. As we can see, Ethan definitely has strong feelings for Mattie and is happy whenever she is around. But, Ethan Frome is a married man and getting involved with anyone else is completely dishonest and not alright. We read as Ethan explains how much he loves to look at Mattie and how when she is around he is taken aback by her presence and distracted from his wife when Mattie is there. I understand that Ethan isn’t happy and that being married to someone that is sick and seven or so years older than you can be hard, you should still be honorable. It can be hard to tolerate someone that you have to spend every minute with but you should at least try. As I read, I feel bad for Zeena, what she goes through and the things that Ethan thinks about Mattie because Zeena didn’t do anything to deserve that. To not get along with your wife is one thing, but to get excited for when she won’t be there because you can see another woman is not okay. Zeena has to spend a lot of time alone and fighting for herself when she can, although she is weak. It is not alright that her own husband didn’t offer to take a sick wife to the doctor and escort her to make sure that she is okay. But, because of the time, both of them must stay in this marriage and that isn’t fair on either end. Hopefully, by the end of the novella they will both be happy and be in a place where they can respect each other.
    Questions:
    Do you as well feel bad for Zeena despite her actions or her personality, or do you find her too needy or intolerable?
    If you were in Mattie’s shoes, would you try to get away from the situation or choose to stay in order to see what could happen or come out of getting to know Ethan?

    • Great response and analysis. I understand your point of feeling bad for Zeena, but I think it’s important to understand that this is exactly what this book is about. It is never easy to leave a relationship, especially a marriage, and it’s hard to admit your feelings if you think your relationship is not working. This book explores how Ethan copes with that, and his reaction is common for these situations. I think, though, that for these reasons, Ethan is eventually going to have to come clean and own up.

  22. In chapters 4, 5, and 6 of Ethan Frome, Ethan’s desire and pleasure of being with Mattie intensifies. Zeena had left to go see a doctor, and Mattie and Ethan are left alone without Zeena. An interesting thing happens as Ethan goes to his house. He becomes terribly afraid of someone else being there. He also comes to great distress when Mattie told him there was a visitor that day. What’s more interesting is that Ethan momentarily feels ashamed for thinking so. Which poses this question: How much does Ethan control his feelings and how much do his feelings control him? We also see his dread of Zeena intensify simultaneously. I think this shows a really important aspect of this novel: that how you feel about someone isn’t always under your control. This book focuses on how to deal with the love of your life changing one-way. This also continues the buildup in tensions between Ethan and Zeena. This further suggests a climax with a significant event. We have yet to see of the narrator, though, and nothing otherwise major has happened.

  23. In the reading of Ethan Frome Zeena has to go to Bettsbridge because of her pain so she can go see a doctor about her pain. This meant that Ethan got to be alone with Mattie Silver, and Ethan is determined to have her heart. With Zeena gone Ethan also had a lot of time to contemplate his marriage with Zeena. Through this contemplation we see a back story of how Zeena and Ethan met. Apparently Zeena was the nurse of his ill mother. Ethan seems to compare Zeena to his mother as well “Then she too fell silent…When she spoke it was only to complain, and to complain of things not in his power to remedy;.”Not only does he say she has changed but in a way pinned the blame on her. Furthermore this makes Ethan flirt with Mattie, but in a awkward way.‘ I saw a friend of yours getting kissed.’ The words had been on his tongue all the evening, but now that he had spoken them they struck him as inexpressibly vulgar and out of place” Clearly this made both of them Uncomfortable and by the end of the day Ethan couldn’t even get to hold her hands

    One question I have is what does Mattie think of Ethan? Does she know he likes her?

  24. For tonights homework, we read chapters four five and six of Ethan Frome. I noticed how different this time period is, and how it effects the plot of the story. For example, take this quote : ” But that had been out of doors, Uber the open irresponsible
    Night. Now, in a lamplit room, with all its ancient implications and conformity and order, she seemed infinitely farther away from him and more unapproachable.” (P.58) This shows that when Ethan Frome was thinking of kissing Marie, that he felt safer to do it outside than inside. I find it interesting, because earlier it said that it felt like Zeena still was there, even though she was driven to the flats.

    My question is: Do you think that Mattie has feelings for Ethan Frome, too?

  25. In Chapters 3-5, we learn several about Ethan, Matt, and Zeena. We learn that Ethan had met Zeena when she went to Starkfield to take care of his mother, which is in a way like Matt, who had went to Starkfield to take care of his wife, the lady of the house. Apparently, Zeena had cured Ethan’s loneliness by being and talking there with him, so after his mother’s funeral when she was getting ready to leave, without thinking he asked her to stay and they got married. Later, after they married, Zeena had succumbed to her “sickliness.”(p. 45) ” When she came to take care of his mother she had seemed to Ethan like the very genius of health, but he soon saw that her skill as a nurse had been acquired by the absorbed observation of her own symptoms.”(p. 45) Sh probably knew what Mattie was doing wrong since she is observant from her time as a nurse. I believe that Zeena had hired her out of all people because she might have been in the same situation as her. She is also jealous of Matt, because Ethan seems to be eyeing her just like when she was helping his mother. I think that once Zeena dies, Matt and Ethan will get married, jut like what happened between Zeena and Ethan.

    Discussion Questions:

    – Who really kissed before Ethan approached?

    – What will happen between Ethan, Zeena, and Matt?

    • Abigail, I like your comparison between Zeena and Mattie, and I agree that Zeena is beginning to be jealous of Mattie, who Ethan obviously has feelings for. Good response!

  26. Chapters 3-5 of Ethan Frome give us some more insight as to why Ethan married Zeena, and on how Ethan and Mattie’s relationship is growing, but could never go anywhere. I found the idea that Ethan only married Zeena because her skills as a nurse were impressive at the time, and her presence and voice was something that he had missed when his parents died, to be interesting. I was actually curious as to why Ethan would even marry someone who obviously doesn’t make him happy, and this provides reason. “After the funeral, when he saw her preparing to go away, he was seized with an unreasoning dread of being left alone on the farm; and before he knew what he was doing he had asked her to stay there with him. He had often thought since that it would not have happened if his mother had died in spring instead of winter…” (pg 44) The last part of this quote also provides insight on how dysfunctional and wrong Ethan and Zeena’s marriage is. To think that you would be happier if you hadn’t met your spouse is a horrible thought, even if it was true. What makes this worse, is that Ethan even considers acting on these thoughts, though he ends up being awkward and coming off strangely. He doesn’t even really try to keep his feelings hidden from Zeena, as he doesn’t offer to drive her to town, and doesn’t take his eyes off Mattie until he realises what he was doing. “‘Of course Jotham’ll drive you over,’ Ethan roused himself to answer. He became suddenly conscious that he was looking at Mattie while Zeena talked to him, and with an effort he turned his eyes to his wife. 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.” (pg 40-41) The way that he describes her when he looks at her compared to the way that he describes Mattie is another indicator that something is very, very wrong. I honestly think that Ethan is to blame a little here, because he doesn’t try to help his marriage by being more loving or helpful towards Zeena, even if his feelings aren’t true. He could at the very least hide his feelings towards Mattie a little more, especially when Zeena is there with them.
    My discussion questions are:
    Do you think that Ethan will own up to his actions and even try to save his marriage, or continue on with a growing relationship that could never really go anywhere?
    How does Zeena feel about this? She obviously knows something is up between Ethan and Mattie, but will she call out Ethan for it?

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