Ethan Frome

by Edith Wharton

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Ethan Frome is a novel written by Edith Wharton, an American novelist, designer and Pulitzer Prize winner for her novel The Age of Innocence. She wrote numerous novels such as The Touchstone, The Valley of Decision, The House of Mirth and The Glimpses of the Moon. Other than novels she has also written many short stories, poems and non-fiction works.

The novel opens up with the unnamed narrator’s visit to spend his summer in Starkfield, a fictional town in England. He hires a car driver named Ethan Frome, who had been described by the local people as “the most striking figure in Starkfield”. During a severe snowstorm, they were forced to take a temporary shelter in Ethan Frome’s home. The narrator finds a paralyzed woman in the house who is being cared by Ethan’s wife Zeena.

When asked about her, Ethan narrates a horrific story which happened 20 years back. An unhealthy Zeena has been helped by her cousin Mattie. Ethan has soft corner for Mattie, which is being suspected by his wife. To save her life she decides to replace Mattie with a new maid. Ethan and Mattie plans to run away from the home. They decide to go for sledding, which they wished earlier. After their first round Mattie wants to spend their last moments of life, by suicide pact. During their sledding, they were hit and literally smashed up by a tree. In contrast their wish for death, Ehtan was heavily injured and Mattie becomes paralyzed. The flashback ends there and now Mattie is being cared by Zeena.