Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome


  • Chapter notes on most chapters - 2 | 4 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
  • A description of Ethan Frome as a person
  • The environment of Starkfield
  • Character profiles | Ethan Frome | Zenobia Frome | Mattie Silver
  • The Starkfield News, Headline - The Smash Up. A newspaper on Mattie & Ethan's costing trip.
  • Notes on views of Marriage Edith Wharton | Ethan Frome
  • The diary of Ethan Frome (Meeting Mattie)

Chapter Notes


  • Ethan is meeting Mattie from the dance
  • Mattie does not see Ethan
  • Denis Eady offers her a lift in his father's cutter but she turns it down
  • Ethan is relieved that she didn't go
  • Mattie agrees to go coasting with Ethan tomorrow
  • Ethan asks Mattie indirectly if she is leaving
  • Ethan is relieved that Mattie is not leaving
  • When Ethan and Mattie return from dance, the key is not under the mat, which is most unusual!


  • We find out in this chapter that when Ethan's mother died, Ethan became very lonely. Ethan wanted to marry someone so he married Zeena.
  • Before Ethan's mother died, she was quite silent and didn't speak much. Ethan is worried that this is now happening to Zeena. Ethan has lied to Zeena about collecting some money and that was why Ethan did not take her to the station to go and see a doctor. Ethan knew that Zeena would spend a lot of money on new medicines so he had to get some money from somewhere. Ethan asked the builder for a suspended payment but the builder thought he was joking. Ethan has a problem! Zeena originally came to help Ethan's mother. Ethan wanted to move somewhere else but Zeena thought if she moved people wouldn't look up to her anymore! Zeena only speaks to complain!
  • Ethan is jealous at the thought of Denis Eady going to spend an hour with Mattie. Zeena has gone to Bettsbridge. Ethan has returned to Mattie who has prepared the supper. There is an accident with the expensive jug and Mattie gets upset. Ethan glues the jug together. Ethan has a sense of mastery that he likes as he has taken care of things.


  • Ethan and Mattie postpone their sledding trip until tomorrow, as it is too dark outside.
  • Zeena is still away and Ethan shares everything with Mattie.
  • It is almost as if Mattie is married to Ethan.
  • Mattie is looking forward to going coasting tomorrow.
  • Ethan is enjoying the evening with Mattie and wished that it would go on forever.
  • Ethan and Mattie are seated like a married couple.
  • Ethan kissed the piece of material that Mattie was working on and Mattie immediately packed up her work.
  • They talked openly for the first time about Zeena's attitude towards Mattie.
  • The cat rocked the rocking chair, which reminded them both of Zeena.
  • When Ethan went to bed, he remembered that he hadn't touched Mattie's hand.


  • Ethan has had a vision of what life with Mattie could be like.
  • Ethan isn't going to meet Zeena from the station - Jonathan went
  • Getting the glue is very important to Ethan and everything goes wrong for him.
  • Zeena is back a lot earlier than expected and Ethan doesn't have a chance to fix the jug.
  • Ethan does not want to sit alone with Zeena


  • Zeena is back from the doctor and in a bad mood
  • She wants to get a hired girl
  • Ethan has to confess that he didn't get the money and that there has been a miss understanding
  • Zeena suddenly mentions Mattie being thrown out and Ethan immediately protests.
  • Ethan breaks the news to Mattie but says that he won't let her go
  • Zeena finds the broken pickle dish and Mattie owns up
  • Ethan blames the cat!


  • We find out that Ethan likes Abraham Lincon and poetry. This gives us further clues on Ethan's character.
  • Ethan, in his thoughts, bitterly regrets marrying Zeena.
  • Ethan plans to run away with Mattie and leaves a letter for Zeena. But, soon he realises that he can't because he has no money.
  • Zeena accuses Mattie of stealing something from the house.
  • Ethan decides that by deceiving the builders, he can leave with Mattie after all.
  • Ethan realises that even if he had the heart to leave Zeena, he would be deceiving two kind people.
  • Ethan wrote a letter to Zeena telling her why he was going.


  • There is a small argument between Zeena and Ethan because Ethan wants to take Mattie to the flats but Zeena wants Jotham to take her.
  • Zeena finally accepts that Ethan can take Mattie to the flats.
  • Ethan takes Mattie a long way round.
  • Ethan and Mattie went down a "Lane of memories". They visited many of the places they had visited together. Some of these places we had not heard of in the novel so far.
  • They had a very good time together.
  • Ethan and Mattie have a discussion about where Mattie will go now. Although Mattie says she has somewhere to go, Ethan persists and she admits that she has no where to go.
  • Ethan and Mattie have a long emotional discussion.
  • Ethan asks Mattie if she would like to come coasting with him. (Mattie promised the other day that she would go coasting with Ethan)
  • At first Mattie refuses but she is persuaded.
  • Mattie and Ethan kissed where Ned and Ruth kissed a couple of days ago.
  • Mattie shows Ethan the letter that he wrote to Zeena. (He meant to destroy it)
  • Mattie wants them to go down the big hill and commit suicide by crashing into the Big Elm.
  • They crash but are not killed.......

Notes on Ethan Frome as a Person

What we know on Ethan Frome at the start of the novel (Flashback - after smashup)

  • He is the most striking figure in Starkfield
  • He has great height, careless powerful look, lean head, shock of light hair
  • His is lame
  • He is bleak and has an unapproachable face
  • Stiffened and grizzled like an old man (even though he is not)
  • He had a smashup which shortened his right side
  • Punctual - drove to the post office same time each day
  • He is not communicative
  • When he does speak, he answers in a low tone or monosyllables
  • His silence is not unfriendly
  • He is known by everyone in Starkfield
  • He is poor with scarcely enough to support his family
  • His Father, Mother and Wife had many health problems
  • He is simple and straightforward
  • He is kind and thoughtful
  • He is isolated and withdrawn
  • He went to college for a year but had to drop out when his father died
  • He is married to Zeena but has trouble communicating to her
  • Since Mattie has come into his life he has taken more pride in his appearance like shaving everyday
  • Mattie understands everything Ethan Frome says about natural beauty

The Environment of Starkfield

  • Starkfield is a very small community
  • Everyone in Starkfield knew Ethan Frome
  • Most people move away from Starkfield in the winter, as it is so cold
  • Starkfield gets cut off in wintertime
  • Starkfield is in the middle of no where
  • Starkfield has its own chronicle
  • A New England village with a post office, church and main street
  • Biggest mansion belonged to Mrs Hale
  • Isolated community is dead during winter

Character Profile: Ethan Frome

  • Name: Ethan Frome
  • Age: 28
  • Date of Birth: 1872
  • Address: Near Starkfield (2 miles away), Massachusetts, USA
  • Interests: Ethan especially enjoys nature. Ethan enjoys spending time with people who share his interest. He enjoys going coasting. He enjoys reading. Enjoys walking too.
  • Married to: Zenobia Frome
  • Land owned: A large farm (getting deserted as Ethan finds it hard to look after the farm and Zeena!)
  • Children: None

Character Profile: Zenobia Frome

  • Name: Zenobia Frome
  • Age: 35
  • Year of birth: 1865
  • Married to: Ethan Frome
  • Medical State: Hypecondriact
  • Interests: New medicines and doctors (and expensive ones at that!)
  • Address: Same as above

Character Profile: Mattie Silver

  • Name: Mattie Silver
  • Age: Early 20's
  • Year of Birth: Unknown
  • Original address: Stanford, USA
  • Interests: Same as Ethan Frome's. She also enjoys dances and having fun!
  • Marital Status: Single

The Starkfield News: THE SMASH UP

Two bodies, just alive were found at the foot of the Big Elm this evening. The bodies have just been identified as Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver. The smashup is said to have been an unfortunate accident in early stages of the investigation but their are many rumors that this could have been a suicide attempt by the two young people.

The two bodies were found by two young children coasting on the hill. The pair were shocked when they found the two bodies but were glad they were alive.

Mattie Silver was most injured by the smashup. It has just been confirmed that Mattie Silver has been totally paralyzed from her neck right down to her feet. Ethan was badly hurt down one side. It is said by medical experts that the chances are he will suffer from a limp as he gets older.


Due to rumors that have been going around lately in Starkfield, it is said to be asked "What were the two doing on the sled in the first place?" Many people may think this is an innocent coasting time BUT a quote from Zeena Frome (Ethan Frome's wife) said: "I don't know why Ethan and Mattie were coasting.....Ethan should have been taking Mattie straight to the flats to catch a very important train". Thank you Zeena Frome

Views of Marriage

Edith Wharton's views on marriage:

  • Edith thinks that you should not marry just for convenience.
  • She thinks you should be married for love and not just forced to do so.
  • In 1885 Edith Wharton married a friend of her Mother's (Quite likely forced)
  • After writing Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton kicked out her husband! (Very uncommon at this time)
  • There is no mention of love in Edith's marriage.

Ethan Frome's views on marriage:

  • Ethan thinks that Zeena only married him for money.
  • No love in Ethan's and Zeena's marriage.
  • Ethan only agreed to marry Zeena because he felt insecure.
  • Ethan wanted someone to die with.
  • Ethan finds the marriage restrictive.
  • Ethan is not attracted to Zeena and he thinks she is ugly.

Diary entries from Ethan Frome

Today Zeena sent me to meet the new house worker. I felt sorry for the poor soul who would have to work for Zeena. She is one of Zeena's cousins, but I hope she won't be like Zeena (I don't think I could cope with two Zeena's in the house!) When I went to meet her from the station, the first thing I saw of her was her wonderful smile as she shouted and waved "You must be Ethan". She wasn't a bit how I expected. She didn't look the house working type at all. I do hope that she livens up our household up a bit. It has been a really good day and what turned from being one of Zeena's chores into meeting a wonderful new person made the day even better. I do hope Zeena treats her well and doesn't try to work her too hard, as I don't think she will be too up to it. She is like a breath of fresh air and I'm sure she will do Zeena the world of good if not me too. At last, I feel that things are really looking up.

2nd October 1944: From the moment I met Mattie I knew she would be a wonderful person and now my thoughts are confirmed, entirely. It was during our night walks back from her dancing that I felt most the great friendship between us. I have always been one for natural beauty and very rarely have I found someone as intensified as I but that was before Mattie entered my life. Whatever I have to say, Mattie is always interested. Zeena would pass me aside but Mattie always hears me out. I think Zeena is getting suspicious about my friendship with Mattie. Since Mattie entered our household, I have been shaving each day. It was silly of me to think that Zeena wouldn't notice. Zeena is one of these people who will notice something and keep it bottled up for days on end and then suddenly spring it on me. My one dread is that Zeena might one day, send Mattie away, if only to spite me. She can be very spiteful and I feel that she doesn't want me to be happy when she herself is so miserable. I would be devastated if Mattie were to leave.

English Literature

Journey's End

Journey's End