Symbolism In Ethan Frome

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b. The theme of lack of education and money is very prevalent in this novel in more ways than one. Mattie Silver helps in the Frome home with Zeena’s sickness and it is mentioned that if Mattie were to get fired, she would have nowhere to go. This surprised me because based on the information we got about Mattie’s family’s wealth, we can assume that she grew up with advantages that Ethan and Zeena did not have. The readers do not get much insight to Zeena and Mattie’s hopes and dreams but I believe that being a helper in the Frome house is not Mattie’s big goal in life. “Mattie had no natural turn for housekeeping, and her training had done nothing to remedy the effect” (Wharton 39). Her situation limits her in fulfilling the dreams that…show more content…
Symbols are what takes a novel to another level and without them a novel would be very one dimensional and readers would lose interest. The color red is very prevailing in Ethan Frome. We associate red with blood, love, hate, passion, danger, and countless others. There are many items in this story that are specifically described as red. Ethan’s scar, the “"cherry-coloured fascinator” (Wharton 32), the pickle dish, and the sun. It seems as if the red symbols are related to angsts in Ethan’s life. The red pickle dish is a symbol of Ethan and Mattie’s marriage. When it breaks, Zeena is devastated, but Ethan, not so much. The idea of passion between the two ties into the color of the dish, red. Also, keep in mind that Mattie was the one who took the dish out of the china closet, which resulted in the cat breaking it. Just like how she broke Ethan and Mattie’s marriage. Another symbol is the tree at the end of the snow slope. Ethan sees Zeena’s face on the tree. The tree symbolizes the desire to be belligerent towards Zeena. Ethan could have avoided the crash into the tree if he wished. Even though both Ethan and Mattie ended up injured, Ethan was glad he hit “Zeena”. The night that Ethan had walked with Mattie home, he notices “A dead cucumber vine dangled from the porch like the crape streamer tied to the door for a death" (Wharton 56). This symbolizes and foreshadows a death to come. The death of Ethan Zeena’s marriage,…show more content…
Mattie and Zeena, the two leading women characters in this novel have many differences that set them apart from each other, but also similarities that grab the reader’s interest. When they both entered Ethan’s life, they were a breath of fresh air that broke the silence in Ethan’s life. However, the crisp air that Mattie brought was prolonged and when Ethan began falling into a pit of silence again, she was there to get him to speak his mind and let out his emotions. She tried to have a positive outlook on life and to try new things to benefit her and others around her. Mattie was more outgoing and spontaneous opposed to Zeena. While Mattie was out and about in the town, Zeena was home all day. Zeena was bitter and controlling towards Ethan and everyone else in her life. Regardless, they were both willing to help when push came to shove. "Zeena 's done for Mattie, and done for Ethan, as good as she could. It was a miracle, considering how sick she was – but she seemed to be raised right up just when the call came to her. Not as she 's ever given up doctoring, and she 's had sick spells right along; but she 's had the strength given her to care for those two for over twenty years, and before the accident came she thought she couldn 't even care for herself” (Wharton 23). So despite of Zeena being cruel and pessimistic most of the time, she was willing to return the favor of kindness and
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