With the sudden perception of the point to which his madness had carried him, the madness fell and he saw his life before him as it was.

Winter is heating up in Starkfield!  In the continuing spirit of our class discussions yesterday and today, I am not providing you with a specific topic to discuss.  Instead, please pursue your own ideas and theories about Chapters 6, 7, and 8 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 #4

43 thoughts on “With the sudden perception of the point to which his madness had carried him, the madness fell and he saw his life before him as it was.

  1. A lot of peculiar and interesting events happen in these three and final chapters of Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton. First of all, Zeena comes home unexpectedly, shocking both Mattie and Ethan. She, apparently, is very sick, and was told by the unusual doctor to hire a girl to do all the work for her. Ethan is appalled, saying that he cannot afford to have another girl in the house. However, Zeena meant getting rid of Mattie, which apalls Ethan even more. Mattie, during supper, noticed his discomfort and asked about it, and Ethan admitted his love for her, and how he doesn’t want her to go. Mattie, too, is shocked that she was getting dismissed. Ethan offers to drive her to the Flats, although his wife objects, saying that Jotham would drive her. Here, this is where Ethan’s smash up happens. During the ride, he shows Mattie tricks to make their last moments together enjoyable. It is also revealed that Mattie also loves Ethan as well. She even goes as far to tell him to drive straight into an elm tree so that they could always be together. Ethan, reluctantly, does, and ends up injuring both of them mildly. Luckily, it does not kill any of them. I am surprised that Mattie also liked Ethan, but neither of them were willing to share their emotions and thoughts with each other.

  2. After reading chapters 6-8, I think it would be worth discussing the theme of morals or moral universes. Throughout these chapters, or the whole novel even, the ideas of being a good person play a role in the character’s decisions. At one point during our reading, Zeena attempts to force Mattie out of the farm. To save Mattie, Ethan becomes desperate enough to consider running away from Zeena. Morally, would it be right for Ethan to abandon his wife, even if she was a constant pain? Zeena had always treated Mattie poorly, but even so, leaving her to task of selling the unwanted farm and mill, or to the ceaseless work, would seem cruel. To this thought, Ethan replies, “Well, she could go back to her people, then, and see what they would do for her. It was the fate she was forcing on Mattie—why not let her try it herself?” If someone treats you badly, is it still morally okay to behave harshly towards them back? In addition, looking farther back into the book, would it also be just for Ethan to be with Mattie, when he was already married? Ethan is far from being happy with Zeena, and is always extremely joyful alongside Mattie. However, would that justify the fact that, in the current moral universe, divorce wasn’t even considered (like we discussed in class)? This information was what restrained Ethan from his desire to be with Mattie. Finally, at the end of chapter 8, Ethan decides that he would use Zeena’s sickness to earn more money from Andrew Hale. However, along the way, he meets Mrs. Hale, who treats him with genuine concern. “It was a long time since any one had spoken to him as kindly as Mrs. Hale.” This causes Ethan to reconsider his decision, thinking that it wouldn’t right to trick two compassionate people who care for him. He also realizes how wrong it would’ve been deserting Zeena at a time like this. “He was a poor man, the husband of a sickly woman, whom his desertion would leave alone and destitute; and even if he had had the heart to desert her he could have done so only by deceiving two kindly people who had pitied him. He turned and walked slowly back to the farm.” Overall, it seems clearer the effect of morality upon a character’s choices.
    Questions: What will happen to Mattie, now that Ethan has changed his decision to escape together?
    Is Zeena actually sick?

  3. In Chapters 6-8, we learn that Mattie has to leave, as Zeena is sick, and needs a hired girl. Ethan is truly shocked and hurt. He feels as if Zeena was a wicked old lady that has taken everything from him, and that she now has also taken away the only thing he loves, when he does not even consider how she would feel until when he reaches the Hales’ house, where he actually thinks of a plan thoroughly. I mean, think about it. The only reason Ethan would have married her was because he felt lonely. She could have refused and by that time would have been known by several cities, but in an act of kindness and happiness she willingly accepts to be married to a lonely poor man she knew little about, and treasure gifts given to them at their marriage. Technically, if they didn’t get married, Ethan probably would have never met Matt. Instead of taking away anything from him, she actually gave him several things: a partner to never be lonely, Matt to not feels so lonely after her sickness, and basically his life, as he said that without her he probably would have been the same as her mother who apparently died of loneliness. Like in several books that I have read including Great Exceptions, by being rude and impolite, she is trying to help them. With the thought of her being with Denis Eady, she is trying to pry Ethan a bit from Matt so he wouldn’t feel so heartbroken when she leaves, which evidently fails. She would correct the mistakes Matt would make, helping her learn so it could help her in the future. She was so sad when Matt had broke a special gift given to her at their wedding, as if she broke their relationship. Zener is a bit of a complex character.


    – Why was Ethan so excited?

    – What may happen to Zeena?

    – Will Ethan be by Matt’s side?

    • Your comment puts things in a new way. Looking at things from Zeena’s perspective actually makes me feel bad for her and is an interesting contrast to seeing things from Ethan’s perspective. I enjoyed reading your descriptive and evidenced-based blog.

  4. In these chapters we see how Ethan is getting impatient with his life. Zeena gets home from the doctor and says how the doctor said she should hire a girl so she doesn’t have to do house work. Ethan says how that would be expensive and professes how he didn’t get money while she way away. “‘You didn’t suppose I was going to keep two girls, did you? No wonder you were scared at the expense!’… ‘I don’t know what you mean,’ he said. ‘Mattie Silver’s not a hired girl. She’s your relation.’ ‘She’s a pauper that’s hung onto us all after her father’d done his best to ruin us. I’ve kep’ her here a whole year: it’s somebody else’s turn now.’(pg.73)” Ethan’s heart breaks at this thought. He goes downstairs to eat. As he is sitting there he can’t eat and Mattie asks what’s wrong. “‘What is it—what is it?’ she stammered; but he had found her lips at last and was drinking unconsciousness of everything but the joy they gave him.” Ethan kisses Matt and then begins to tell her how Zeena is going to hire a different girl. “‘You can’t go, Matt! I won’t let you! She’s always had her way, but I mean to have mine now—’Mattie lifted her hand with a quick gesture, and he heard his wife’s step behind him.(pg.77)” So this is really awkward but they act like it didn’t happen and go on eating. Zeena and Mattie go upstairs to bed after dinner but Ethan can’t sleep. “Confused motions of rebellion stormed in him. He was too young, too strong, too full of the sap of living, to submit so easily to the destruction of his hopes….He knew a case of a man over the mountain—a young fellow of about his own age—who had escaped from just such a life of misery by going West with the girl he cared for. (pg.82)” Ethan begins to think of what a life without Zeena would be like, and he loves it. He and Mattie would go West and have a family there. There is only one problem: money. Where will he get all that money from? The next morning he plans to go to Mr. Hale for money. The Hales are kind and sympathetic. They know how hard his life is and will give him the money. As he is walking to their house he realized “He was planning to take advantage of the Hales’ sympathy to obtain money from them on false pretences.(pg.90)” Ethan understands getting money from the Hales would be taking advantage of their kindness. As he is walking back to the farm he come to a realization about his life. “With the sudden perception of the point to which his madness had carried him, the madness fell and he saw his life before him as it was. He was a poor man, the husband of a sickly woman, whom his desertion would leave alone and destitute; and even if he had had the heart to desert her he could have done so only by deceiving two kindly people who had pitied him.(pg.90)” Ethan understands how he really shouldn’t take advantage of the Hales. He also knows he’s trapped in this life with Zeena for now.
    What do you think Ethan will do with this realization?
    Does Zeena now know of Ethan’s love for Mattie? Is firing Mattie some sort of a punishment?

    • Abby, you have a great summary of the chapters here, and I really like your discussion questions. I too wonder what Zeena’s intentions for firing Mattie are, and if it’s because she knows of Ethan’s feelings for her. Great job!

  5. In chapters 6,7, and 8 of the novella, “Ethan Frome”,
    Zeena comes back from the doctor. She demands for a girl to come and help her with her house work, because she thinks that she is more sick that she really is. She demands for Mattie Silver to leave the house. After supper, when Zeena went to the closet to find her stomach powders, she found out that the red pickle dish has been broken. In class we have discussed the importance of the color red as a symbol in this novella.
    Red is also known as a symbol of love. The pickle dish was red, and Zeena’s, but Mattie took it and served food on it to Ethan. This could symbolize how Mattie now has the love that Ethan had for Zeena. The dish breaking could symbolize Ethan and Zeena’s relationship shattering. Their trust for one another breaking.
    During the first time that we were reading about Mattie, she was wearing a red “fascinator”, which could be a symbol of her having Ethan’s love, even when she wasn’t aware of it. After all, this is a story about Ethan Frome, and it includes falling in love while he is still married. Red seems to stand out in this book, and it seems to be mainly connected with the relationship between Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver.
    My questions are: Is Zeena really as sick as she makes herself look to be? Will Ethan really let Mattie leave?Is Zeena sickness not physical per say, but a mental health problem?

  6. Chapters 6-8 are the most intense chapters so far. Zeena comes back from her visit to the doctor with news that her illness is worse than imagined, the doctor recommended a surgery or at least that Zeena performs absolutely no work which means a hired labourer. Getting a hired labourer will cost too much if Mattie’s cost are also paid for so Zeena will fire Mattie. Ethan is bewildered by the thought of losing Mattie. He doesn’t like Zeena and would rather live his life with Mattie. He begins to have rebellious fantasies about leaving Zeena and living with Mattie.He even begins to write a letter about his leaving Zeena. ““Zeena, I’ve done all I could for you, and I don’t see as it’s been any use. I don’t blame you, nor I don’t blame myself. Maybe both of us will do better separate. I’m going to try my luck West, and you can sell the farm and mill, and keep the money—”” The problem is in doing this he is going to need to borrow money and then Zeena will be alone. To borrow money he would need to lie to the only people that have ever been good to him and if he left Zeena alone, she wouldn’t be able to live by herself and with only the little money the farm is worth. Eventually, Ethan resigns himself to the terrible fate that he will have to live forever with a disabled and mean woman. In these chapters, Zeena also cries over the broken pickle jar and talks about how she always knew Mattie was bad. These encounters stress Ethan. How can he recover over the loss of Mattie? What will happen to Zeena if Ethan can’t afford good medical treatment?

  7. The climax is nearing ever closer as we complete chapters 6, 7, and 8. In these chapters, tensions are rising among Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena. However, tensions are also rising within Ethan. Ethan is struggling with a difficult choice. His heart goes out to Mattie, but in his mind he knows he can never leave Zeena, since they are married. This is where Ethan’s personal longings conflict with his moral universe. Obviously, his moral universe says that he can never leave Zeena. Back then, there wasn’t any such thing as divorce. Whoever you were married to you stayed with for the rest of your life. However, Ethan hasn’t really made up his mind about what he wants to do. He really does want to run away with Mattie. The only problem is that he feels guilty about leaving Zeena behind with almost nothing. The problem is partly caused by his moral universe. If he had no obligation to Zeena whatsoever, then the choice would be a lot easier. However, the problem is also in part caused by Ethan’s personality. At heart, he is someone who cares for the well-being of others. His way of thinking is “Don’t get anybody hurt.” For example, at first he was going to get a loan from Ruth Varnum about leaving Mattie, using Zeena’s sickness as an excuse. But in the end, he doesn’t go through with it, because he feels guilty about taking money on false pretenses. But in this situation, that’s impossible. If he left with Mattie, he would be leaving Zeena with nothing. But if he stayed with Zeena, then Mattie would be forced out of the house with nowhere to go to. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    1. Could Ethan manage to win in this situation? Is there any way that this could possibly end where he doesn’t feel guilty?
    2. Since Ethan loves Mattie and not Zeena, do you think that it would be morally correct for him to run away with her?

    • Great blog. I really like your questions. It is most likely that Ethan will not win in his situation. He can’t leave Zeena because he has no money or place to stay. It would be hopeless. The only choice for him is to live with Zeena for the rest of his life, but he doesn’t want that.

  8. In chapters 6-8 of the novella, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, many interesting and significant events occur. First and foremost, Ethan goes in search of some glue to fix the broken pickle dish. After a lengthy search, he finds it and quickly returns home. He returns home to Zeena’s return from the doctor. Zeena had gone directly to her room with the news that she is much iller than he thinks. According to the doctor, Zeena cannot do any housework due to her illness, needing a hired girl who would arrive in the near future. Ethan becomes angry at this expense of this hired girl, and a raging war of words ensues between him and Zeena. Zeena insists that she lost her health nursing his mother, while Ethan declares that he lacks the money to employ a hired girl. Ethan is caught in his own lie about the advance he had been planning to collect from Andrew Hale. He said he was collecting money from Andrew Hale, as an excuse not to take Zeena to the doctors. Zeena then announces that Mattie must leave the house with the new girl coming in. Zeena explains that with Mattie’s departure, they will be able to scrape together enough money for a hired girl after all. Ethan obviously doesn’t feel good about this and doesn’t want Mattie to go away. Mattie realizes that Zeena intends to replace her as Ethan declared that Mattie should not go. Later on, Zeena finds the broken pickle dish and is immediately upset and on the verge of crying. Ethan had forgotten to fix the dish after buying the glue and was left to defend Mattie. He said that the cat did it before Mattie confessed that she brought the pickle dish down to the table. Zeena scolds Mattie for her sneakiness and declares that she should have turned her out long ago. This doesn’t help Ethan desire to keep Mattie at the house at all. Ethan reviews the case of a local man who had deserted his wife in favor of the woman he loved. Ethan was encouraged by this precedent and decided to run away with Mattie. He even wrote a letter of farewell to Zeena, leaving her the farm and the mill. Finally, upon Mattie’s departure, Ethan says that he will take Mattie to leave instead of Powell, despite Zenna request for Ethan to stay with her. Ethan also tries to raise some money to begin a new life with Mattie. He starts with Andrew Hale but sees only his wife who kindly speaks to him about his courage in taking caring of Zeena. These words encourage him to try and raise money from the Hales who feel sympathetic for him. It is not long before, he comes to a realization about his fantasies and returns back to the farm.
    Discussion Questions:
    What do you think will happen in the smash-up that has to be coming soon?
    How will the future of Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena look like?
    What’s the significance of the narrator thus far in this novella?

  9. After reading chapters 6,7, and 8 of Ethan Frome, we have had some interesting insight into the characters of Mattie, Zeena, and Ethan. The story continues as Ethan first goes out to find a means of repairing the pickle dish, but once he does so cannot fix the dish, as Zeena has come home. Ethan finds Zeena in her room, much weaker and far more ill than previously thought. This is shown as after Ethan notifies her of supper, she says “I don’t feel as if I could touch a morsel.”…he could think of nothing more felicitous than: “I presume you’re tired after the long ride.” Turning her head at this, she answered solemnly: “I’m a great deal sicker than you think.” (page 68). Ethna and Zeena then get into a fight as the doctor has told Zeena she needs hired help around the house. She proposes to get rid of Mattie, and Ethan (obviously) objects. A little while later, after telling Mattie of Zeena’s intentions, Ethan is confronted by Zeena about the broken pickle dish. Mattie eventually confesses and Zeena scolds her. Then later, Ethan thinks of a plan that he and Mattie can run away from Zeena, but that soon falls through. On Mattie’s last day with them, Ethan raises money for her and after talking to the Hales, soon comes to the realization that running away with Mattie would be cruel and outlandish. In these chapters, all three main characters are presented in a new light. Ethan, who has until this point been somewhat shrouded in mystery, now has an edge. He is unafraid to get into a fight with Zeena, and at first shows no qualms about running away with Mattie. This is shown as at first Ethan, “was fired by the thought. Why should he not leave with Mattie the next day, instead of letting her go alone? He would hide his valise under the seat of the sleigh, and Zeena would suspect nothing till she went upstairs for her afternoon nap and found a letter on the bed…” (page 83). It is clear that Ethan is not as much somber as earlier. Zeena, however, seems more frail than ever. After coming back from her doctor’s visit, she is especially ill and unable to do much. However, she is still able to make Ethan miserable with her treatment of Mattie. Mattie, as well is shown as very weak. She seems helpless about leaving until Ethan confronts her. It makes me wonder what will happen to her after she leaves the Fromes. Overall, I found these chapters to be quite interesting and also revealing of our three main characters.

    Two questions I have are:

    We know the smash up is happening soon, but in what way will it occur? Will Ethan change his mind and try to escape with Mattie, or will something else happen?

    Is Zeena as sick as she appears to be? Ethan expresses his doubt when talking to her, and I find it odd that a doctor would help Zeena kick Mattie out of her home. Could Zeena be hiding behind this illness to try and get her way?

    These questions could help to provide insight into each character, and I hope they are addressed in class.

  10. Zeena comes home from her doctor’s visit, and comes home very tired, depressed and saddened. She does not speak to anybody for a while, and when she finally does speak to Ethan, she tells him that she is likely to die sooner or later. Then, Zeena reveals that a girl is going to come help out with housework, as Zeena cannot and is not allowed to do any work for several months. This means that Mattie has to move out, and Ethan is extremely distruaght and unhappy because of this. Ethan keeps trying to fight for Mattie, stating that she has only done well ever since she has moved in. But, Zeena is known to not change her mind, and when Ethan tells Mattie about the news, they both know that their time together is limited. The decision is confirmed when Zeena finds the broken pickled-dish at the top of the shelf, which Mattie takes the blame for. “You’re a bad girl, Mattie Silver, and I always known it. It’s the way your father begun, and I was warned of it when I took you, and I tried to keep my things where you couldn’t get at ‘em—and now you’ve took from me the one I cared for most of all—” She broke off in a short spasm of sobs that passed and left her more than ever like a shape of stone.”(Pg. 80). If Zeena did not like Mattie before, she certainly despises her after this incident. Mattie’s departure had been confirmed at this point, and Ethan wanted to all he could to stay with Mattie. Ethan was considering abandoning Zeena and taking advantage of the Hales, but went against his selfish and horrible plan at the last second. Ethan thought about doing everything in his power to stay with the person he loved, but in the end, he decided against it and accepted his fate.

  11. In chapters 6-8 of Ethan Frome, Zeena finds out that her beloved pickle-dish has been broken. She gets really upset and when Mattie says to her that she took it down to make the table pretty, Zeena gets very mad. “Zeena stood beside the ruin of her treasure, stiffening into a stony image of resentment. ‘You got down my pickle-dish- what for?’ A bright blush flew to Mattie’s cheeks. ‘I wanted to make the supper-table pretty,’ she said. ‘You wanted to make the supper-table pretty; and you waited till my back was turned, and took the thing I set most store by of everything I’ve got, and wouldn’t never use it, not even when the minister come to dinner, or Aunt Martha Pierce come over from Bettsbridge-’”(80) This shows how much Zeena cared about that pickle-dish, which might also show that she cares about Ethan, too. Of course over time, their relationship has grown rocky, but Zeena still cares about him. She grieved over the broken dish, “…as if she carried a dead body…”(80) That dish was a wedding gift, and it would be expected that Zeena would not care about it much since she and Ethan aren’t the closest and affectionate of people. But her statement here shows us otherwise. We see that although Zeena and Ethan are really indifferent towards one another, she still cares about their marriage. This goes back to the imagery about the cat; the cat was seeking attention, just as Zeena is. Zeena still loves Ethan (though she doesn’t have a very good way of showing it), even though he might not necessarily love her back anymore.
    1. What will Ethan choose to do; stay with Zeena or run away with Mattie?
    2. If he stays with Zeena, will he take his anger out on her or will they get closer now that Mattie is out of the picture?

  12. In chapters 6, 7, and 8, there have been numerous monumental contributions to the story. The most important of these is “Mattie suddenly drew her arms out of the steaming water. “It wasn’t Ethan’s fault, Zeena! The cat did break the dish; but I got it down from the china-closet, and I’m the one to blame for its getting broken.”(Pg. 80) This text is a metaphor. As we discussed in class, the cat is a symbol for Zeena, the china dish is a symbol for the marriage and Mattie as well as Ethan are both symbols for themselves. The milk, I believe, represents the affection Mattie gets the pickle dish down and into the open, in the same way that she exposes the marriage to be broken. During the scene at the dinner table the cat is trying to get the milk, similarly to the way Zeena is looking for affection. When Ethan and Mattie reach for the milk, the cat backs away, taking the chance to get away from them as Ethan holds his hand on Mattie’s. This is metaphor for Zeena backing away and trying to protect herself from the affection between the two. Just as the cat breaks the pickle dish, Zeena accidentally breaks the marriage.

  13. In tonights reading in chapters 6, 7, and 8, there were many motifs, images, and symbols. One symbol in particular, that interested me was glue. In the chapters, Zeena is coming home from the doctors in Bettsberg and Ethan quickly looks for glue to repair the broken pickle jar. Throughout the text, glue symbolizes something that can repair love, just like how glue puts pieces together. When Ethan races to find glue, he looks everywhere but it is too late and he can’t find glue. In terms of the glue symbolizing something that repairs love, Ethan races to find something that will fix their marriage and love but he is soon to realize that the damage was done and it is going to take time to find something to repair Zeena and Ethan’s love. Just like how Mattie and Ethan only looked for the glue the day of Zeena’s return and rushed to get it but didn’t find it, you can’t rush love and you has to be patient. When you find the right glue, it takes time to settle and sometimes the glue won’t be sturdy enough for what you need it to do. This is the same thing with love, it is like a rollercoaster that goes up and down and takes a lot of hard work. Glue is also sticky and once it tears, things come falling apart. Throughout the novel Ethan kept trying to keep everyone happy, but the reality was, he wasn’t happy. Now that he is trying to make things better but things are just falling apart and not sticking. To conclude, Ethan was looking for something to make things the way they used to be, but things change and there isn’t one thing that can fix everything.

    • I love how you focused and glue! I wrote in my blog about how the plate represents the relationship between Zeena and Ethan, and I think your idea of glue really ties into that. Ethan tries hard to fix the plate but is unable to do so. He loves Mattie, and there is no way to fix that. Overall, great blog post!

    • Noy, I love your comparison of glue and Ethan’s search for love, though I think that your analysis of the comparison is a bit off. Ethan was rushing to find the glue because he didn’t want Zeena to find out that the dish had been broken. His motive was his love for Mattie, not for Zeena. I don’t think he wanted the glue for Zeena’s sake, or to fix his marriage, but for Mattie’s sake, and to find a way that would make a future between them possible. Other than that, great blog!

  14. On Friday, my group discussed how the broken plate represents the relationship between Ethan and Zeena. From the start, the plate was located on the top shelf, hidden and away. Ethan and Zeena’s relationship was never good from the start, and once Ethan got closer with Mattie, the plate breaks. Ethan and Zeena’s marriage is still there, but their relationship is broken. During the chapters we recently read, more proof of the plate representing Ethan and Zeena’s relationship is shown. In chapter 7, Zeena says that she knows the Ethan doesn’t care about her health, even though her health got worse taking care of his mother. They fight, and Zeena said that Ethan had to marry her because she lost her own health taking care of his mother. “‘You lost your health nursing mother?’ ‘Yes; and my folks all told me at the time you couldn’t do no less than marry me after—’” (page 70). The text also states that this was their first real fight. Their first real fight takes place after the plate is broken. If the plate represents the relationship between Ethan and Zeena, then their “plate/relationship” is broken, and for the first time, they fight. “It was the first scene of open anger between the couple in their sad seven years together,” (page 71). Fast forward to the end of the chapter when Zeena finds out the Mattie had broken the plate. The text states, “ …and gathering up the bits of broken glass she went out of the room as if she carried a dead body…” (page 80). The author specifically compares the plate to a dead body. Maybe Zeena’s? The plate can also mean Zeena’s inner feelings with Ethan specifically, and if so, then Zeena’s relationship with Ethan is now dead.

    • Discussion Questions:
      Can the plate be “glued” back together? In other words, can the relationship between Zeena and Ethan be fixed?

      If the cat symbolizes Zeena, then is Zeena the reason for their relationship problems? Or does the cat represent something else?

      • I really like these questions Ellie and I agree, I think there is a deeper importance to the pickle dish and why Zeena was so upset by its breaking. great job!

  15. The chapters 6-8 of the novella Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton have many components to them. Zeena comes home from the visit to the doctor and shares that she has found out that she needs help and an aid all of the time. This means she needs someone around more than Mattie and someone more experienced than Mattie. Unfortunately for Ethan, this means that Mattie will have to leave and get a new job somewhere else because they cannot pay two aids at the same time. While Ethan is thinking about having to be without Mattie, he thinks of what he would be willing to do in order to be with her. He considers leaving Zeena in the same way that he had heard someone else he had known leave their wife in order to be with someone else. Ethan was seriously considering running away from his own sick wife who needed money and help, just to be with Mattie whom he thinks he is in love with and will be in love with forever. He thinks about going west, leaving Zeena the farm and the money he has so that she’ll be okay and he’ll finally be happy with Mattie alone and away from his wife and his past life that never made him happy. What I found interesting was, at one point he talks about how he realized that he couldn’t do it. That no matter how well he set up Zeena it would ever be right to leave and he calls the situation that he is stuck in as prison. It was scary thinking that someone could be so unhappy as to call their own marriage and life a prison. It was crazy that he could be so utterly hurt by the situation he was in. Does Zeena feel the same way? Is that why the pickle dish was such a huge deal, did Zeena feel as though the pickle dish, a gift for their wedding was falling apart with their marriage? Did she feel as though they were breaking and did she know how he felt about Mattie? These chapters revealed a lot about what the characters really feel and that feeling is trapped.

    • I really like your response Ryan! You really see Ethan’s perspective on leaving Zeena. I wonder if he will stay with her or run away with Mattie.

  16. After reading chapters 6-8, many crucial events took place between multiple characters. Zeena comes back from the doctor in Bettsbridge, and comes home with news saying that she is very ill and that she will need treatment as soon as possible and she has limited time before she needs help from a maid that is not Mattie. ‘You didn’t suppose I was going to keep two girls, did you? No wonder you were scared at the expense!’…”pg. 73. Ethan is flabbergasted as he realizes that is time with Mattie is coming to a very abrupt end and he will never get to spend quality time with her ever again. Zeena comes downstairs and sees that her prized and loved pickle dish is broken. When she asks, who broke it, Ethan responds, the cat. However, Mattie admits that she was the one who brought the pickle dish down as a decorative piece.
    …and I tried to keep my things where you couldn’t get at ‘em—and now you’ve took from me the one I cared for most of all—” She broke off in a short spasm of sobs that passed and left her more than ever like a shape of stone. If I’d ‘a’ listened to folks, you’d ‘a’ gone before now, and this wouldn’t ‘a’ happened,” she said; and gathering up the bits of broken glass she went out of the room as if she carried a dead body…” pg. 80
    I have a couple of points to bring up about this incident.
    1. If she didn’t like Mattie before, she really doesn’t like Mattie any more now.
    2. She says that Mattie took away from her the thing that she cared for the most in her life. That shows that she has no emotion towards any human being in her entire life. She lives such a sad and depressing life that the thing she cares for the most is an inanimate object. No wonder, she has such hatred towards Mattie. The one thing that she does have is a husband and her own husband despises her and falls in love with her own niece. Not even that, her husband despises her so much that he considers leaving his sick wife for her cousin who’s going to be married to a different man. If I were Zeena, I would be living in hate too.
    3. I also think that the pickle dish represents Zeena and Ethan’s relationship. The text says that she carried the pickle dish like a dead body. Zeena and Ethan never had that chemistry or that special spark. I think the broken pickle dish is a metaphor for Ethan and Zeena’s relationship. Or it could be the author’s way of foreshadowing that something bad will happen to Zeena or Ethan.
    Discussion Questions:
    What does that broken pickle dish (dead body) represent?
    Will Ethan abide by his “moral universe” and stand by Zeena through “sickness and in health”? Or will he run away with Mattie?

  17. This weekend we read chapters 6-8 of Ethan Frome. In these chapters Zeena returns from her new doctor saying that she is worse than she thought and needs a new hired girl. “‘Yes. He says any regular doctor would want me to have an operation,’” (Pg. 69). I’m a little bit confused as to why they need a new hired girl if they are paying Mattie? Or are they not paying Mattie, because Zeena says that she can’t keep two girls, which is the part that confused me. Anyway, Zeena and Ethan get in their first real fight and Ethan considers going out west with Mattie, and leaving Zeena all alone. His reasoning for making this right in his own head was that Zeena wanted to do it to Mattie, and there was another man who did it and everyone in his situation ended up alright. In the middle of all this drama Zeena finds the broken pickle dish, and that is what I want to focus on, even though a lot of people are probably going to talk about it.
    First of all, what does the dish represent? I think the dish represents Ethan and Zeena’s relationship falling apart. The dish is a wedding gift, that is now shattered, and it seems as if their marriage itself is shattered. Also, the dish was broken with Mattie to blame, as was Zeena and Ethan’s relationship. Second of all, Ethan rushes to get the dish glued together last minute, which maybe could be foreshadowing Ethan having to rush to fix his relationship with Zeena once Mattie leaves. Or since Ethan never actually got to fix the pickle dish, it foreshadows Zeena not forgiving Ethan for the damage he has done. Third of all, Ethan blames the cat for breaking the dish, and then Mattie takes the blame. I think that the cat repress Zeena, which we saw on Thursday, and the dish represents Zeena and Ethan’s marriage. This would imply that Ethan is blaming their marriage troubles on Zeena, but really it is being ruined by Mattie.
    Discussion Questions:
    If all of my suspicions are correct.. then how can all the details in this novella come together?!
    Will Ethan’s smash-up have to do with Zeena, Mattie, or neither?

  18. In this post, I want to talk about the theme of secrets and lies. Through the whole novella, Ethan is meeting with Mattie in secret, which he has to do because he is a married man. However, in chapter 7, things take a turn for the worse. Zeena obviously seems weak, she doesn’t even want to get out of bed. She tells Ethan how the Doctor says she can no longer work and must only rest, so she wants to hire a new housekeeper and kick out Mattie. “Zeena laughed. It was on odd unfamiliar sound—he did not remember ever having heard her laugh before. ‘You didn’t suppose I was going to keep two girls, did you? No wonder you were scared at the expense!’ He still had but a confused sense of what she was saying. From the beginning of the discussion he had instinctively avoided the mention of Mattie’s name, fearing he hardly knew what: criticism, complaints, or vague allusions to the imminent probability of her marrying. But the thought of a definite rupture had never come to him, and even now could not lodge itself in his mind.‘I don’t know what you mean,’ he said. ‘Mattie Silver’s not a hired girl. She’s your relation.’ ‘She’s a pauper that’s hung onto us all after her father’d done his best to ruin us. I’ve kep’ her here a whole year: it’s somebody else’s turn now.’” Zeena obviously just wants to get rid of Mattie because she knows her husband loves Mattie more than her. Perhaps this whole doctor’s order of hiring a housekeeper is all just an excuse to kick out Mattie. The number one rule in a marriage is trust, and because Ethan and Zeena keep lying to each other for their own gain, the relationship is falling apart! Also, the cat is back! I might be wrong, but I feel like the cat represents Mattie intervening Ethan and Zeena’s relationship. “At the challenge Ethan turned back into the room and faced her. ‘I can tell you, then. The cat done it.’ ‘The cat?’ ‘That’s what I said.’ She looked at him hard, and then turned her eyes to Mattie, who was carrying the dish-pan to the table. ‘I’d like to know how the cat got into my china-closet’ she said. ‘Chasin’ mice, I guess,’ Ethan rejoined. ‘There was a mouse round the kitchen all last evening.’” Seeing how Zeena is mad how Ethan is telling Zeena how the cat is causing all the problems that make her upset, which sounds a lot like Mattie.
    My questions are:
    What will happen to Mattie? Is she really going to get kicked out by Zeena?
    What will happen to Ethan and Mattie’s love? I know they can’t be together, but their relationship seems so perfect.

  19. In these chapters, Ethan and Zeena’s issues finally unfold and they collide headfirst. Zeena returns home from the doctor’s and has troubling news. Zeena is now bed- ridden and can’t do housework and they now need a house girl to pick up her slack. But Ethan told her that they don’t have the money for it, so in retaliation Zeena decides that they have to get rid of Mattie. Ethan can’t contain contain his rage at this point, he is upset because Mattie isn’t a stranger she’s Zeena’s flesh and blood. This really reveals Zeena’s true colors, she’s really heartless and stubborn, she wants to kick Matttie out even when she knows that Mattie has nowhere to go, and it’s even worse because Mattie is a relative of Zeena. I used to sympathize with Zeena but I really can’t anymore because she dealing with her anger towards Ethan in a very heinous way. She lashes out again in this chapter when she finds out Mattie broke her pickledish, she uses this to justify her anger when breaking the dish was just an honest mistake. Ethan after all this decides he should try to flee with Mattie and leave Zeena to figure out and start over on her own like she wanted to do with Zeena. Ethan is started to tire of Zeena, it also seems like he wants to make amends with Zeena but after their blowout he’s done. He is starting to see a life with Mattie as a possibility. He wants this and he isn’t afraid to get it. Ethan doesn’t want to live an unhappy life, he wants to break out.

  20. “You’ve had an awful mean time, Ethan Frome.” (pp. 89) In chapters 6, 7, and 8, Ethan has a hard time coming to terms with relationship he has with Mattie, that of which he’s been hiding from Zeena. Zeena bitterly told Ethan that Mattie is to be fired, and Ethan is heart broken. “…he had instinctively avoided the mention of Mattie’s name, fearing he hardly knew what: criticism, complaints, or vague allusions to the imminent probability of her marrying.” (pp. 73) Ethan realizes that his time with Mattie is limited. He is truly stunned when he sees that she left a note for him, stating, “Don’t trouble, Ethan.” (pp. 81) Ethan decides that he can no longer live with his cruel wife any longer, so he writes his own note to Zeena, saying that he will be going west with Mattie. “By the time she had discovered his whereabouts, and brought suit for divorce, he would probably-wherever he was- be earning enough to pay her a sufficient alimony. And the alternate was to let Mattie go forth alone, with far less hope of ultimate provision.” (pp. 84) But to Ethan’s dismay, he doesn’t have enough money to even bring Mattie west, let alone buy a home there. Ethan’s life so far has been fueled with bad luck, and he has learned to remain silent. He is a helpless man who has no voice. We really get a glimpse of Ethan when he was defending Mattie from her departure in chapter 8. While he and Zeena were arguing before supper, Ethan really lost his temper with Zeena, and he argued passionately over Mattie, because he really loves her. And I think that Zeena noticed. My questions are: Were there any other symbols of silence throughout these chapters? And, Can we trust the advice that Zeena tells us that are from her doctor? Would he really recommend hiring a new assistant, or is Zeena’s jealousy coming through? Lastly, who is this doctor, and can we trust Zeena when she says that she only saw him due to her health?

  21. The plot thickens with chapters 6-8 of Ethan Frome. We begin relatively early on with the revelation of intention to hire another girl to come help around the house. Naturally, Ethan is terrified of losing Mattie and only deepens his hate/fear of Zeena. It seems peculiar, though, at least to me, that Zeena would choose to do that, ad especially now, when Ethan’s affection for Mattie is greater than ever. I believe, based on the timing, reasoning, and reaction to Ethan’s exoression, that she knows full well, in secret, that Ethan and Mattie are spending time together. She, instead of screaming and causing a fit, which she does not have the energy for, wants to isolate and remove Mattie from Ethan’s life to win his affection back. This prompts my first discussion question: do you think that Zeena knows of Ethan and Matties relationship? One more thought on Zeena though, is that she seems to be getting worse. This ties to the last question, but do you think she is going to die of this sickness? There is a chance that she knows/feels that she is going to die. If she found out about Ethan’s relationship, if she knows she will most likely die too, she might just feel there would be no reason to get angry, and instead wants either revenge, restoration, or lessons to be learned.

  22. In chapters 6, 7, and 8 tensions rise between Ethan Zeena, and Mattie and Ethan is put forth with a unethical choice. As we have seen so far Ethan has come home from buying glue to surprisingly see Zeena there as well. Zeena apparently is worse than before and is telling Ethan that they need to hire someone to do all the work around the house. Ethan isn’t fond of the idea because he doesn’t have the money to pay for someone to that all the time, he didn’t think it was necessary because they already had Mattie. What he did not consider was that Zeena was to get rid of MAttie for a new girl.“‘You didn’t suppose I was going to keep two girls, did you? No wonder you were scared at the expense!’… ‘I don’t know what you mean,’ he said. ‘Mattie Silver’s not a hired girl. She’s your relation.’ ‘She’s a pauper that’s hung onto us all after her father’d done his best to ruin us. I’ve kep’ her here a whole year: it’s somebody else’s turn now.’ “ Ethan was absolutely horrified by this idea. Not only because he loved Mattie but he also had sympathy for her. He knew she could not make it on her own and land a secure job. Zeena strengthen her reason to get rid of Zeena after she found out that someone broke her pickle dish. I found this part interesting since that there could be interpretation that the pickle dish was an indirect symbol of Ethan’s love and that his love for Zeena was taken by Mattie and she destroyed it. “Zeena stood beside the ruin of her treasure, stiffening into a stony image of resentment, “You got down my pickle-dish-what for?”A bright flush flew to Mattie’s cheeks. “I wanted to make the supper-table pretty,” she said.“You wanted to make the supper-table pretty; and you waited till my back was turned, and took the thing I set most store by of anything I’ve got, and wouldn’t never use it, not even when the minister come to dinner, or Aunt Martha Pierce come over from Bettsbridge—” Zeena paused with a gasp, as if terrified by her own evocation of the sacrilege. “You’re a bad girl, Mattie Silver, and I always known it. It’s the way your father begun, and I was warned of it when I took you, and I tried to keep my things where you couldn’t get at ‘em—and now you’ve took from me the one I cared for most of all—” She broke off in a short spasm of sobs that passed and left her more than ever like a shape of stone.“If I’d ‘a’ listened to folks, you’d ‘a’ gone before now, and this wouldn’t ‘a’ happened,” she said; and gathering up the bits of broken glass she went out of the room as if she carried a dead body…” To summarize the pickle dish braking meant that Ethan and Zeena’s love is finally over. This all pushed Ethan to make a terrible choice, to leave to the West with Mattie or stay with his wife Zeena, If he did move to the west Zeena would be left with nothing and nobody to care for her illness, however Ethan apparently cannot bear to stay with Zeena for some reason. In the end Ethan decided to stay. Not because it was ethically wrong to leave your wife with nothing, but because it was ethically wrong to ask for money from a friend.
    Questions: What will happen to MAttie now that she is without a job?
    Is Ethan going to try harder to get away from Zeena?

  23. These few chapters were very eventful. Zeena came home a little earlier than Ethan was hoping, and went up to her room not coming down for dinner. When Ethan went up she told him that she needed to hire a girl, because the doctor said that she was to sick to have to do anything. When Ethan started talking about Mattie, they both got angry at each other, which was the first time that they had shown open anger together. Ethan went downstairs and in a fir told Mattie that she needed to leave. Ethan drives her to the flats, even though Zeena says that she doesn’t want him to drive Mattie, that Jotham can do it. Here, Mattie admits her love for Ethan too, and she tells him to drive into the elm tree so that they could always be together. But when he did this, he only succeeded in mildly injuring them both, not killing themselves like they had hoped.

    DQ: Did Mattie always know that she loved him? Or was this something new?

    DQ: Did the “doctor” actually tel Zeena to hire a girl? Or was she just saying they had so that she could get rid of Mattie?

  24. Chapters 6-8 were quite eventful, as Zeena returns home just as Ethan comes back from finding glue to fix the broken pickle dish. I forgot to say in my last blog, but I believe that the dish breaking represented the official end of Ethan and Zeena’s marriage. It broke just as Ethan and Mattie were having supper together at an especially nice dinner table, thanks to Mattie. As for the glue that Ethan got to fix the dish, I think it symbolizes his attempt to find a way for Mattie and himself to be together. “Ethan, consumed with the longing for a last moment alone with Mattie, hung about impatiently while Denis made an ineffectual search in the obscurer corners of the store.” (pg 64) He wanted it as quick as possible so that he could get home and spend more time with Mattie before Zeena got back. His attempt to return before Zeena, was halted however, when Zeena showed up earlier than Ethan had presumed. She was upstairs when he returned, and when he offered Jotham Powell dinner, he rejected it in a strange way. “Jotham’s facial muscles were unmoved by this appeal and, his vocabulary being limited, he merely repeated: ‘I guess I’ll go along back.’ To Ethan there was something vaguely ominous in this stolid rejection of free food and warmth, and he wondered what had happened on the drive to nerve Jotham to such stoicism. Perhaps Zeena had failed to see the new doctor or had not liked his counsels: Ethan knew that in such cases the first person she met was likely to be held responsible for her grievance.” (pg 66) I find this interesting because in the past, Jotham has shown himself to be quite friendly and warm, so this sudden change in personality is peculiar. When Ethan goes upstairs to Zeena, she tells him that the new doctor said she was much sicker than originally thought. She says that she has to do no work whatsoever, and that she needs a hired girl to help around the house. This means that Mattie has to leave, much to Ethan’s despair. I wonder if this is what the doctor actually said to her, or if she made it up because she caught on to Ethan’s feelings for Mattie and wanted her to leave. This makes the reader wonder if Zeena really does love Ethan, if she’s so set on making sure that Mattie is out of the picture. Of course, she could also just be doing it because she knows it would make Ethan upset, which is what he thinks she’s doing.
    My discussion questions are as following:
    What happened on the trip home that made Jotham Powell so “stoic?” Was it just that being around Zeena was taxing, or did she tell him something upsetting, like perhaps her suspicions of Ethan’s feelings for Mattie? (I know this is a long shot but it’s worth the speculation.)
    Did the new doctor really tell Zeena to fire Mattie and get a hired girl, or did she make that up so Mattie would have to go? If she did make it up, what were her motives? Does she actually love Ethan, or did she merely want to make him upset?

  25. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 provide complications in Ethan’s situation. Zeena comes home and is very sick, “I’m a great deal sicker than you think,”…”He says any regular doctor would want me to have an operation,”(pgs.68-69). One interesting topic is the inclusion of regular doctor. Constantly we are presented with normal and abnormal doctors in this novel, and perhaps there is a deeper meaning to the wording that is slipped in there. Anyway, the doctor tells Zeena that she should hire a woman to do all her house deeds for her. Ethan tells her that they can not afford to have a helper and then Zeena explains that they will just have to get rid of Mattie (Nice try Zeena). Ethan and Zeena get into an argument about what they should do, and overall it’s just bad for them. Clearly, they don’t have a healthy relationship and its honestly sad that they both play the victim card whenever they fight in an attempt to guilt trip one another. If I’m honest, the only reason they are still together from what I see is that they both pity each other. Ethan clearly feels bad if he left a very sickly woman to be by herself, and Zeena still thinks that there is this old version of Ethan that still loves her and doesn’t want to end things with him.

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