PrologueThe very name of the village, “Starkfield,” suggests that the novella will take place in an extremely barren environment. In fact, the term “stark” even refers to something hard and unyielding, indicating that this town may not move the plot forward as much as the reader may have assumed. Herman Gow later corroborates this in his conversation with Ethan Frome, who, according to this town gossiper, is constantly living in the season of winter and has witnessed most intelligent individuals leave for the many winters in Starkfield.As the Narrator has observed, the Formes’ farmhouse appeared to be something that is so pitifully sad that it almost seemed abandoned or lonely. In other words, the narrator, upon carefully observing the thin wooden walls, worn out paint, and broken down gate of Frome’s house, may have felt distressed and oppressed, and thus influence how us readers perceive the farmhouse.Perhaps the author used ellipses as a way of breaking up the two stories, where the prologue ends and the story of Ethan Frome a number of years earlier begins. They may essentially serve as indicators of gaps in the story, and to a larger extent, give rise to numerous questions from the audience. To put another way, by utilizing ellipses, the author is leaving the reader to discover how Ethan’s life is drastically altered by forcing them into a situation where he/she have to ask themselves, for example, whether the story was told completely from Ethan’s viewpoint, or did other characters share their thoughts.Chapter IThe author uses foreshadowing throughout chapter one in several unique ways. For example, the crippled appearance of Ethan may suggest that he is experiencing physical illness. Another instance can be observed in the beginning of the chapter, in which the author describes the night sky as having “points of the Dipper that hung like icicles”, suggesting to the reader that the harsh environment has caused Ethan Frome to lead a life full of hardships. Orion, as later mentioned, would indicate to the reader what he/she will eventually discover about Frome and his “burning” passion that will later be revealed to be for someone other than his wife. Moreover, the setting, which is the author informed the reader to be extremely bleak, foreshadows the dull and dreary life that Ethan will lead in later chapters.This section’s flashbacks reveal much information about the early Ethan Frome to the readers. These character descriptions allow the reader to look into the thoughts and feelings of Ethan, so that he/she may get the opportunity to know Ethan both inside and out. For instance, it can be inferred from one of this chapter’s flashbacks that Ethan is an intelligent individual, since he did attend college (despite leaving it before completion). Therefore, one can probably deduce that his mind is very active; he reflects on the past, analyzes the present, and dreams about the future.The reader can probably infer from this chapter that the sickly Zeena is well enough to realize that her husband is attracted to Mattie. Other characteristics that probably also stood out to the reader is Zeena’s jealousy and spite, both of which would later prompt Zeena to begin to have thoughts about sending Mattie away permanently, as well as her manipulativeness, which had followed her sickness. Also, it is suggested that Zeena had seemed to be the only active and loud thing in Ethan’s life when his mother died, but this side of her disappeared when she fell ill. Chapter IIIt is revealed in this chapter that Ethan was conflicted about his feelings after having to constantly fear the presumption that Zeena knows how he feels about Mattie, that Zeena will send her away, that Mattie cares for Denis. In other words, Ethan made himself wretchedly unhappy with his fears, which lead him to distort his thinking whenever feelings like these were brought about.The elm tree discussion is probably the most important hint to the future sledding disaster that would be later observed in the ninth chapter. It is even more crucial to notice how the foreshadow developed when Mattie thought the tree should be cut down, in spite of Ethan’s promise to her that it was not necessary and assured her he is a very good sled driver. The graveyard is another important hint that is mentioned in this chapter and other places in the novel; it essentially foreshadowed the deadly situation that Mattie and Ethan will be forced to experience after the accident. Ethan is reluctant to go to bed immediately because he would have had Mattie watching him follow Zeena up the stairs into their bedroom rather than following her. In spite of this, Mattie seems to secretly urge him to go to bed with Zeena because she does not want Ethan, who eventually submits to this silent urging, and Zeena to fight with each other.Chapter IIIPsychologically, Mattie is a happy and cheerful person, whereas Zeena is further developed as a mean-spirited older woman. She is portrayed as whiny and unsympathetic to her husband’s financial constraints. It can even be inferred from the audience that Zeena’s only concern is her own ailments.Ethan’s conflict intensifies as Ethan began to think about Mattie constantly, regret that he did not kiss her the previous evening, engage in fantasies about her. The author even revealed that during his thought processes, Ethan was sure, given the chance, he could be forever happy and content with Mattie. Perhaps what intensified the conflict the most was at the end of the chapter, in which the reader is left in suspense as Zeena is going away and Ethan will be alone with Mattie.The night before, Zeena had laid down facing away from Ethan speechless, suggesting that the relationship between the two was deteriorating. Even Ethan had quickly undressed and blown out the light, so he could not see Zeena, but could listen to Mattie in her room. This other instance further supports the fact that Ethan and Zeena’s marriage was being compromised and thus the unlikeliness that the latter would bear any children.The audience would learn that at the death of Mattie’s father, his wife and daughter were poverty-stricken. Mattie’s mother died shortly thereafter, and Mattie was left an orphan. Mattie, who had very limited skills, tried various jobs, but her health broke down. Since her nearest relations had lost their savings by putting their cash into her father’s hands, they felt no responsibility toward the daughter. As a result, Mattie came to the Frome farm to help with Zeena and the chores.Chapter IVEthan’s traits are emphasized when he goes to see Hale, who was astonished at Ethan’s request for payment. Here, it is revealed that Ethan is too shy and proud to plead urgent need, which was necessary for him to hide a truth from Zeena, his wife. These characteristics can once again be observed when Hale follows him and questions him further about the advance he had called for. It is this moment that Ethan’s pride causes him again to deny any urgency. since he was This chapter tells us readers about how Zeena took care of Ethan’s mother and the house efficiently, and how he felt he owed her something. It is later revealed to us that when she prepared to leave, after his mother’s funeral, Ethan felt such a dread of being left alone that he asked Zeena to stay and subsequently marrying her. Ethan and Zeena’s original plan was to pay off their debts, sell their farmhouse, and settle down in a town less rural than Starkfield, for Ethan did not particularly like farming. Unfortunately, Ethan and Zeena’s dreams would never be realized. This is evident by the fact that no individual was willing to purchase their farmhouse, and the fact that Ethan and Zeena were forced to stay in Starkfield primarily due to their poverty. Chapter VIt can be inferred from this chapter that Mattie was the type who was willing to tolerate Zeena’s endless complaints and grievances, whereas Ethan was the type who was intent on avoiding such situations by ignoring or avoiding at hand. Ethan and Mattie are unnerved by the cat, spoils the mood of their evening by jumping onto Zeena’s rocking-chair and proceeding to observe them intently as if it (or he/she) were Zeena in the flesh. Even Ethan would later regrettable admit (not to Mattie though) that Zeena would return the following night and sit in that exact chair.Ethan tries to reveal his feelings to Mattie by first leaning forward and fingering the fabric Mattie is working on, then telling her that that a friend of hers got kissed under several trees. He has attempted to tell her this in a intimate way, but the words come out sounding so vulgar that it immediately prompted Mattie to pull away from him.Chapter VIEthan’s evening without Zeena allowed Ethan perceive his daily routines by making him experience what it would be like with the encouraging presence of Mattie (whose cheerfulness probably made Ethan more motivated to work) instead of the constant complaints and grievances of his sickly wife. It can observed that after Zeena had returned, the scene in the kitchen was comfortable and looks very much like the previous night, except that Mattie and Ethan merely look at each other in silence. Here, it is suggested that Ethan and Mattie probably continued to pretend that nothing has happened, as if they have no choice in the matter but to wait for the suspense that is building, and that will eventually reach the climax in the next chapter.Several foreboding signs begin to reveal themselves during the Ethan’s morning, which has gone horribly wrong. For instance, as he ran to town to purchase glue for Zeena’s pickle dish, Ethan witnessed an injured horse and a downpour of rain in addition to sleet. Even the work he had to complete by the end of the day took Ethan long past the dinner hour. Perhaps the most ominous warning was Jotham’s refusal to stay and eat, since it was only Jotham’s presence at the dinner table that would ease Zeena’s anger and frustration with her husband and her cousin, Mattie.Chapter VIIZeena’s news about replacing Mattie with a new servant girl would push Ethan to his emotional limits. Being financially devastated is already making Ethan’s life miserable, and now Zeena insists on having hired help. Perhaps what emotionally wrecked Ethan the most was when Zeena reminded him that large amounts of money (to them, anyway) could be saved if Mattie were no longer living under the same roof as them. Even though it is never really clearly stated from the author, it can be inferred from Zeena’s statements and actions that she knows about the supposed “affair” between Mattie and Ethan. Zeena was probably very determined to get rid of Mattie primarily due to the fact that she was a threat to her marriage and security. Zeena’s anger over the broken pickle dish probably demonstrated her deep desire to preserve her marriage with Ethan, whose presence Zeena feels was necessary for her recovery. Zeena probably also intended to use the pickle dish as proof that her cousin, Mattie, is incompetent as well as dishonest. After all, it was only after Mattie had broken the pickle dish (though in actuality the cat accidently toppled it over) that Zeena had begun calling her a bad girl and expressing regret over taking her in. Chapter VIIIEthan decides to maintain his status quo because he couldn’t bear to act in a way that he (in his whole life) believed to be immoral, even if his morality costs him his happiness. One exceptional example of this would be when Ethan had originally planned on setting off with the hope of borrowing money from Andrew Hale, and how at the last moment he realized that taking advantage of his kindness would be wrong. Ultimately, Ethan’s sense of responsibility to his ailing wife outweighs his love for Mattie, and he returns to the farm despite his desire to be with Mattie forever.Ethan does not consider this because he realized that moments later that even if he were to leave, he did not have enough financial support to do so. Even if he had desperately wanted to act, Ethan cannot seem focus on an appropriate action due to Mattie’s impending departure from the farm in addition to the lingering thought of having to spend the rest of his life with Zeena, who relied heavily upon Ethan to recover from her illness.Ethan’s American “dream” could not be achieved because Ethan, as he wrote his letter to Zenna, was beginning to have doubts about whether Zeena will successfully get a buyer for the farm, and how she will be able to maintain the farm’s condition until she finds someone who was willing to purchase the land. Ethan also worries how he will be able to financially support Mattie, considering he has no money and he knows no one who will lend to him. Ethan might have felt that his marriage to Zeena was forced, almost as if he were trapped as a prisoner inside his own farmhouse by societal expectations. In other words, this un-loving marriage has essentially rendered Ethan powerless in this destructive power struggle between him and his wife, Zeena, who grows evermore domineering and controlling of Ethan, whose hopes for beginning a life with Mattie together is almost improbable by this chapter.Chapter IXIt becomes apparent that Zeena’s reaction contrasts with Ethan’s during their dinner together. According to the author, Zeena seemed to be extremely cheerful and hungry, while Ethan was completely outraged when Zeena had insisted that Ethan stay and repair the stove for the hired girl, instead of helping Mattie get to the train station himself. Ethan’s defiance against Zeena’s commands are ironic because Ethan, at the time, did not have enough time to prevent Zeena from sending Mattie away. So, despite Ethan (somewhat) managing to stand up to Zeena when she objects to his driving Mattie to the station and resisting her attempts to manipulate him, he still felt powerless against Mattie’s fate, which seems almost inevitable by this point.One of Mattie’s options that was mentioned by the author was to find work in a store, especially since she felt much stronger now after recovering from her past physical illnesses (and also when she tried that sort of work before). As of this chapter, Mattie’s future seems bleak, and it is questionable whether such efforts will improve her situation. Furthermore, Mattie’s refusal to consider asking her father’s folks for help further limits the options she has.Suicide seemed logical/rational at this point of the novella because Ethan had explicitly stated that he would rather see Mattie dead than married to someone else. Mattie, too, even confessed that she wished to have died, confidently claiming that no one has been as kind to her as Ethan. In short, by committing suicide (via driving into the elm tree), Ethan and Mattie will get to spend eternity together. This does, in fact, change my perspective on Mattie, since she perfectly willing to join Ethan in death all because she was didn’t have the courage and strength to express her love properly. Also, if Ethan and Mattie truly wished to be together, they could have just ran away right then and there.Ethan’s decision to swerve the sled (and thus crashing into the big elm tree) at the last second was probably intentional, although it is also irrational in various ways. Ethan probably blamed his unwillingness to die on Zeena, feeling he had a responsibility to her, and their lack of finances. Perhaps he believed his duty is to stay with Zeena because she needs him. Furthermore, this type of thought process was obviously irrational, since Ethan failed to consider his decisions with a clear mind, and has been, for the past several chapters, constantly bombarded with his own selfish desires. EpilogueThe Narrator has changed his tone to sound apologetic in this section of the book. This is evident during the observations he/she makes of the poverty that surrounded him and the bleakness of Ethan Frome’s house. The Narrator sounds especially sympathetic when he commented on how miserable all the residents, including Ethan, of this empty and desolate town were. Furthermore, it can be inferred that during the Narrator’s conversation with Mrs. Hale about Ethan Frome’s situation, the tone was remorseful to some degree, as is evident from the quote that the Narrator used when describing Mrs. Hale’s thought processes (which is exactly as follows: “I don’t see’s there’s much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard”).From my perspective, this story does not have any powerful positive messages that it sends to the readers. This novella, in my opinion, is simply a tragic picture of life. I mean, even the cheerful and outgoing Mattie, whose spirit was crushed by the isolation and harshness of the farm, ended up suggesting to Ethan that that commit suicide on the sled. In my opinion, this story teaches the readers that no matter how how much you overcome the downs of your life to achieve your end goal, you will still be forced to live with the consequences of your actions. For Ethan himself, his desire to be with Mattie eventually led to his attempt at rebellion and escape has failed, and he ends where he began, trapped by illness, poverty, and winter in Starkfield, waiting for death.