Ethan Frome Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome is a sad tale of a young man caught in a loveless marriage that leaves him trapped in the town of Starkfield. Told from the eyes of a visitor to the town, Ethan's life is "put on display" as the book leads you through the tragic tale of Ethan's mother dying, which in an act of desperation, he marries the same girl who cared for his ill mother. Yet things get worse when Zeena, Ethan's wife, also goes ill. When his wife sends for her cousin, Mattie Silver, Ethan finds himself falling for her, and her for him. But Zeena sees the changes, and demands that Mattie be sent away. In an act of desperation the two lovers decide they would rather die together than seperate.
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The review of this Book prepared by Sonya

Ethan Frome is a reserved New England farmer where the chill of the locale is equal to the chill of his sickly wife, Zeena, who he married in a moment of rash loneliness after his mother died. The nagging Zeena arranges for her cousin, the young and lovely Mattie Silver to help with housework, and Ethan finds himself falling in love with Mattie. Ethan and Mattie are able to enjoy a private evening of dinner and conversation while Zeena is away for health reasons, but Zeena's prized pickle dish is broken by the cat that evening. Giving the suspicious Zeena enough "reason," she demands that Mattie leave, despite Ethan's protests. In dismay, Ethan drives Mattie to the train station, when the two sorrowful lovers create a plan to go sledding down the giant hill and crash into a tree in a double suicide. At the last moment, Ethan swerves slightly from the tree, and rather than dying, both Ethan and Mattie are crippled and left to the care of Zeena.
The review of this Book prepared by Angela Allan

Chapter Analysis of Ethan Frome

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1900-1920's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   marriage/relationship going to pieces Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Wife Family, caring for ill    -   Yes Who is sick?    -   wife because he/she is    -   physically ill Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Married, fooling around?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   farmer Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   6 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Farm/Ranch?    -   Yes Farm/Ranch:    -   farm Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Edith Wharton Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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