Significance of the Pickle Dish A small red glass pickle dish clatters to the floor. The significance of this may seem minute but in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome the impacts are huge. Although Wharton doesn't come out and tell the conclusions of the actions there are a few questions to be asked, such as: why would Mattie even bring down the dish, what were they going to do about it, would Zeena ever really know what was going on. Although they both tried to hide their feelings for each other, through their actions in this mishap they both let out indirect secrets to the readers.
I. After the pickle dish breaking, Ethan displayed actions of authority and took charge which proved that Mattie was submissive trusted in him.
A. In a voice of authority Ethan took charge of the chaos by saying "here, give them to me,"ÃÂ (Wharton p. 86).
B. Then without giving her any explanation he said, "its all right [Mattie]"ÃÂ¦come finish your supper, (p 87). When she didn't question him showed her trust in him.
II. Why would Mattie bring down the dish? (to make their night special) A. Mattie did know that the dish wasn't to be brought down"ÃÂ¦"ÃÂyou see [Ethan] she [Zeena] ne'er meant it should be used,"ÃÂ (p 85) but she pulled it down regardless.
B. When Mattie was questioned under pressure by Zeena she finally had to admit, "I wanted to make the table pretty"ÃÂ (p 127) III. By Ethan telling Mattie to not say anything about the incident both of them agreed to be sneaky A. Ethan showed Mattie that he was on her side when he said "she [Zeena] needn't know about it if you keep quiet,"ÃÂ (page 85).
B. Then they both lied to Zeena's face when they both blamed it on the cat, "the cat done it"ÃÂ. (page 126).
These conclusions are some among many to be discovered from the incident. Ethan's and Mattie's fate is soon to be discovered. Although they both tried to hide their feelings for each other, through their actions in this mishap they both let out indirect secrets to the readers.