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Ethan was hit by a bout with his responsibility to Zeena while he was supposed to be committingsuicide with Mattie; “But suddenly his wife's face, with twisted monstrous lineaments, thrust itself between him and his goal, and he made an instinctive movement to brush it aside.”[CITATION Edi11 \p 216 \l 1033 ] Ethan’s last minute attempt to change the sleds direction added more misery for each in the triangle of his life. The irony of Ethan not being ableto let go of his responsibility to care for Zeena, but take his mind off of the fact that Mattie was his current responsibility as the sled conductor. Ethan’s attempt at an escapist sort of pursuit to happiness again ends in more misery as he ends up in a lot of pain and somewhat physically reduced, as well as stuck with the guilt of paralyzing Mattie. Compounding Ethan’s misery is the accident has left Mattie a bitterly angry paraplegic who resembles Zeena’s former persona rather than the young and vibrant version that provided an escape and a hope for Ethan. Zeena had ironically ended up with the guilty conscience and is taking care of Ethan and Mattie. The reader
Douglas LudmanProfessor BusbyLITR221 B007 Fall 1423NOV2014is left to decipher Zeena’s true state of health herself as it is represented that she only seems to behealthy enough to care for Ethan and Mattie’s injuries. Ethan is still trapped on the farm, but nowhas two women to help care for, and a guilty conscience that he placed them both in their positions under his duty of care. Edith Wharton paints a compelling picture of Ethan’s desires to chase the American dream of the pursuit of happiness and anchors him down with an immovable ability to get out of his own way and allow happiness to find him. With every attempt to find happiness, Ethan seemsto draw more sadness and pain into his life. It seems harsh enough that the protagonist can’t seem to break free of his chains, but each attempt seems to gain another chain. His guilt and the seemingly endless winter of his life carry on like a never ending ground hog day.Works CitedWharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. Scribner's, 1911.