Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome

Book - 1911
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In Ethan Frome, the reader is guided through the observations of the events during a winter storm by an unnamed narrator. The action centers around the characters of Ethan, his wife Zeena and Zeena’s cousin Mattie. Ethan falls in love with Mattie who has come to help care for a chronically ill Zeena. Zeena learns of Ethan’s feelings for Mattie and plans to send her away. Ethan plans to run away with Mattie but feels guilty and backs out when a neighbor compliments him on his patience and dedication to Zeena during her illness. Instead, he takes Mattie to the train station. On the way, they stop at a tree laden hill where they had talked of going sledding at one time. They go down once, despite the danger of the trees. Afterwards, Mattie proposes they make a suicide pact; they will sled into a tree and die together. Ethan refuses at first but is finally swayed. However, as in real life, their plans do not go as expected. Originally a French language composition begun by Wharton while she was studying in Paris, she may have based this story on the real account of a 1904 sledding accident. One of the girls involved, Kate Spencer, survived the accident and later became a friend to Wharton. Wharton maintained that Ethan Frome was a tale rather than a novel, implying a moral to the story. Critics have debated the morals of the character’s suffering since the novel’s release.
Publisher: New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.
Characteristics: 1 online resource (201 p.)

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