Ethan Frome

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade August 2001

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Plot: Ethan Frome is a story set in Starkfield, Massachusetts near the turn of the century. Ethan Frome tries to manage an unsuccessful farm while trying to care for his sick mother. Ethan marries a woman by the name of Zeenie who is also caring for his mother. Zeenie's cousin, Mattie Silver, enters Ethan's life. Ethan is even more attracted to Mattie, whose appearance is heightened by the red ribbon in her hair. He begins to wonder how life would be with Mattie Silver rather than Zeenie. As years pass, Ethan's parents pass away and Zeenie becomes sick. Mattie has come back to Starkfield to help care for the ailing Zeena. Ethan has fallen for the sweet Mattie again because she is so unlike the complaining and stuck up Zeena, Climax: Zeena dismisses Mattie from caring for her. Ethan becomes frustrated and upset at Zeena that she made his love leave.

Ethan takes Mattie to the train station but they take a stop on the side of the rode. They decide to take the sled ride that they used to talk about. Mattie suggests that they throw themselves in the path of the elm tree. They both agree that their lives are not worth living if they are separated. They hit the elm tree with an unexpected result, they are both severely injured, but survive the crash. Zeena takes Mattie in and cares for her, Ethan is crippled from the crash. Ethan's fate is tragic, he must live with the woman he hates, and the woman with whom he had a chance to live a happy life.

Purpose/Message: I feel that the message of story is sad but true. That message is there are many stories out there but there are few with happy endings. The ending of this book was unexpected but true in real life. You can't always get what you want or need. Ethan couldn't get the one he loved in Mattie, and was forced to "love" Zeena for the rest of his life.