Meanwhile zeena is not happy with mattie she

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Meanwhile, Zeena is not happy with Mattie. She complains that her works is shoddy and not up to her standards. She makes her distaste for Mattie clear to Ethan throughout the book. Some might say that Zeena was jealous of Mattie. Assuming that Zeena is approximately the same age as Ethan, it would only put her in her mid to late 20’s- not even a decade older than Mattie. However, America seems to always have an obsession with youth and this obsession becomes personified in Ethan’s character and attraction to Mattie. One night, Zeena leaves to go stay with relatives and see a doctor in another town. It is the only night that Ethan and Mattie have spent alone. While they talk, Ethan begins to realize how attracted he is to Mattie. In his mind, he starts to imagine them running away together. She appears to feel the same way when Wharton writes “his glace crossed Mattie’s and he fancied 5
that a fugitive warning gleamed through her lashes” (564). However, their relationship remains platonic and Ethan promises Mattie that he will take her sledding the next evening. When Zeena returns, she informs Ethan that she has hired a new girl to take care of the house and she is sending Mattie away. Ethan is upset, but cannot challenge his wife. This situation reveals something about family dynamics. Even in the patriarchal society that existed back then, Ethan was unwilling to argue with his wife. In theory, she didn’t make any money so she had little say as to who they hired, yet Ethan still took orders from her. Ethan wants desperately to run away with Mattie. He tries to hatch a plan in which they head west and he gets a job, leaving the house and the farm to Zeena. However, he becomes despondent when he realizes that he does not have enough money for tickets. This is a dynamic that has been played out all over America. People dream about getting away from their small towns (usually heading out west), yet they don’t have the financial means to do so. As Ethan drives Mattie to the train station, they admit that they care about one another and devise a plan to commit suicide together by sledding down a hill into a large oak tree. They start off on the sled and at the very last minute, Ethan pictures his wife, pulling right so that they do not hit the tree head-on, but still hit it hard enough to cause grave injury to themselves. The end result is that Ethan and Mattie both live, but are gravely injured. They are forced to spend the rest of their lives living together in Ethan’s house with Zeena in what can only be described as the ultimate punishment for all three of them. This story serves as a glaring reminder that no one, even in America, is guaranteed a happy ending. Life can be harsh, cruel, and unkind and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to escape where you are from. 6
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Works Cited Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome . Mineola: Dover Publications , 1991 (reprint). Electronic. 8

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