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Transcript of Ethan Frome
The pickle dish
The color red
Book by: Edith Wharton
Presentation by: Jenny O'Neill
1980: A recurring theme in literature is "the classic war between a passion and responsibility." For instance, a personal cause,a love, a desire for revenge, a determination to redress a wrong, or some other emotion or drive may conflict with a moral duty.
Choose a literary work in which a character confronts the demands of a private passion that conflicts with his or her responsibilities. In a well written essay show clearly the nature of the conflict, its effects upon the character, and its significance to the work.
Protagonist of the story
Strong appreciation for nature
Wife of Ethan Frome
Dominant in household
Cousin of Zeena Frome
Less rounded character
She was hired by the Frome's to help around the house
Characterized by long winters
Cold is used as a stifling force
"Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters"
Increases Ethan's desire to escape Starkfield when given the chance
The story starts from the point of view of an unnamed narrator who has recently arrived in Starkfield. He is curious about Frome and questions many locals about the strange man. Later he is forced to stay at Frome's house due to a snowstorm. When he reaches the house the reader is transitioned into the main story line and the narrator is reintroduced later as he enters the Frome's house. The entire frame of the story takes place years after the main storyline occurs.
Main Storyline Summary
Ethan returns home from picking up Mattie from a party to find that Zeena is once again sick and feels even worse than usual. Zeena goes to the doctor and decides that she needs to replace Mattie with a more helpful hired girl. Ethan is devastated by this thought and considers running away with Mattie. On the morning that Mattie is supposed to leave, Ethan decides that he cannot live without her. They had been planning for a while to go sledding together and Ethan thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to do that. After their first sled ride Ethan comes up with the idea of sledding into the large tree at the bottom of the hill so he won't have to choose between Zeena and Mattie and can just die now with Mattie instead. This suicide attempt ends up being a failure and simply cripples both Ethan and Mattie.
Ethan's decision between his passion (Mattie) and his responsibility (Zeena)
Passion- Ethan is in love with Mattie and she is the closest thing to being his escape from Starkfield.
Responsibility- Zeena is often getting sick so Ethan is responsible for supporting her. She would have no way of paying for her medicine and treatments.
Mattie is often associated with the color red
She wears red in scenes where she and Ethan are alone
The red symbolizes sin and temptation (She tempts Ethan to be unfaithful to Zeena)
Symbolizes Zeena's presence when she is not at home.
"They drew their seats to the table, and the cat, unbidden, jumped between them into Zeena's empty chair."
"But through her hair she had run a streak of crimson ribbon."
The pickle dish was Zeena's favorite wedding present and the dish breaking symbolizes the broken relationship between Ethan and Zeena.
Ethan decides not to fix the pickle dish and simply puts off its repair. This shows his indecisiveness between fixing his relationship with Zeena or moving on with Mattie.
Responsibility Vs. Passion
Ethan loves Mattie and wishes to leave Zeena and run away with Mattie, but he has to stay with Zeena to care for her when she is constantly ill.
This decision between responsibility and passion is what leads to Ethan's crippling downfall.
Winter as an inhibiting factor
The winter impedes Ethan's advancement because he is a farmer which is not a reliable job in the frozen setting.
The setting is oppressive to the characters.
"He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface."
What is Ethan Frome's job
What is Zeena's relation to Mattie?
A) She is Mattie's sister
B) She is Mattie's best friend
C) She is Mattie's cousin
D) She is Mattie's mom
How did Ethan and Mattie try to commit suicide?
A) They sledded into a tree
B) They stood in front of Mattie's train
C) They stood in the cold for a long time
What color is often associated with Mattie?
What did the cat break at dinner?
A) A pickle dish
B) A vase
C) A serving tray
D) A water pitcher
What is the name of the town where the story takes place?