Ethan Frome

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Novelette by Edith Wharton, published in 1911. It was dramatized by Owen and Donald Davis (1936).

This grim story is told by a middle-aged engineer, who pieces together the history of the inhabitants of a bleak Massachusetts farm. Zenobia (Zeena) is a whining slattern who hugs imaginery ailments to her barren breast, and spends upon quacks and patent medicines the scant substance her husband, Ethan Frome, manages to wring from the grudging earth. Her cousin Mattie Silver is left destitute and comes to live with them. The friendship of Ethan and Mattie arouses Zeena's jealousy, and after a year Mattie is ousted to make way for a strong hired girl. On their way to the railroad station, Ethan and Mattie realize that they cannot bear to part, and when they are coasting down their favorite snow slide he purposely steers their sled into a great elm. Intead of being killed, they are crippled for life, and spend the remainder of their unhappy days on the barren farm under Zeena's surveillance.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Edith Wharton (1862—1937) American novelist and short-story writer

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