Ethan Frome Questions
1. The symbolism of the light of Mattie’s candle and the darkness of the Fromes’ room is that the light represents hope and love that Ethan desires which Zeena does not have. The darkness of Zeena is what is in the way of Ethan’s love for Mattie.
2. Ethan feels a dread in Zeena’s silence on this particular morning because Ethan’s mind becomes preoccupied with Mattie. He regrets not kissing her the night before and his thinks about the relationship between Zeena and Mattie which has been weird lately. 3. Zeena’s sudden decision to see a new doctor on this particular morning is unusual.
Ethan dreads her decision because of the cost of the medications she will get. He welcomes her decision because this is the first time Zeena will be away for the night and him and Mattie will be alone together. 4. Ethan’s excuse for not driving Zeena to the flats is that he needs to go collect the cash from Andrew Hale upon his delivery of a load of wood that afternoon. Chapter 4 1. Ethan’s fantasy about the kitchen was that him and Mattie would sit together, one on each side of the stove; he would be smoking his pipe and she would be laughing and talking in the funny way she did. 2.
Zeena’s arrival affects Ethan because it made him feel less lonely. Fearing the return of his loneliness when his mother died, Ethan asked Zeena to marry him. 3. Ethan’s motives for remaining on the farm were that he wanted to sell the farm and saw-mill and try moving to a larger town because he had always wanted to be an engineer. He thought that with a smart wife like Zeena it would be easy for him to make a place for himself. 4. The situations on the farm life and home life affected Ethan because he was never able to sell his farm and his wife had become so sick that all his hopes were crushed and he could never live his dream. . Ruth and Ned contrast Ethan and Mattie because Ruth and Ned are engaged and can show their love for each other in public and they can share their happiness. On the other hand, Ethan and Mattie have “such a thirst for each other in their hearts” (Wharton 69). They cannot show their feelings to anyone. 6. As Ethan heads towards the farm, the atmosphere reflects his feelings because it is a thick fleecy sky threatening snow for the next day and Ethan is feeling down as well. 7.
Ethan’s actions and Mattie’s appearance at the door contrast the events of the previous evening. In the previous evening, Zeena had stood with the lamp looking bony and unattractive. This time, Mattie had a lifted lamp in her hand and had a crimson ribbon in her hair. 8. Zeena’s cat is intrusive and very symbolic. The cat jumps up onto the table, breaking a pickle dish. Its actions symbolize Zeena’s invisible presence. It’s like a force that comes between Mattie and Ethan and reminds them of Zeena’s existence. 9.
Mattie’s concern about the broken pickle dish is caused by her remembering that Zeena told her to never use that dish because it was Zeena’s favorite wedding present. 10. Ethan feels a “thrilling sense of mastery” because he helped solve the problem for Mattie and made her feel better about causing the accident to happen. Chapter 5 1. Zeena’s cat and the rocking chair are further reminders of Zeena. When Mattie sits down on Zeena’s cat, Ethan sees the specter of Zeena’s face to have appeared in place of Mattie’s features.
He begins to feel uneasy and Mattie leaves and goes back to where she was sitting before. Then the cat takes its spot on Zeena’s chair. 2. The reference to the elm foreshadows a later action. Ethan says that “there’s an ugly corner down by the big elm” (Wharton 80). He is scared because if you don’t keep your eyes open you would crash right into it while sledding. 3. Mattie says “Nobody can tell with Zeena”, she is referring to what Zeena thinks of her and how she wants Mattie to get married. Chapter 6 1. Ethan’s morning joy is contradicted by the frustrations of the day.
He sends Jotham to pick up Zeena at the train station but one of the horses slips on the ice and cuts its knee, and the sleety rain makes loading the logs difficult. Ethan heads to the Eady store to look for glue to fix Zeena’s broken dish, but he can’t find any there. He then goes to widow Honan’s store and finds one last bottle of glue. 2. Ethan wonders “what happened in the drive to nerve Jotham to such stoicism”. He thinks that maybe Zeena wasn’t able to see the new doctor or didn’t like something about what the doctor did and she usually blames her grievances on the first person she meets.