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But Ethan's and Mattie's dream of a life together turns into a nightmare.Mattie becomes hard, bitter, and complaining, far worse than Zeena had ever been, while Zeena flourishes in her role as caregiver--and victor over the two who had wronged her.Time and again, the novel depicts Ethan toiling in the land, trudging through an ocean's depth of snows, and breaking his already broken body against the harrowing landscape, in a pathetic attempt to eke out a living for himself and his dependents.
Now Ethan and Mattie are inextricably bound together, but their bond is one of pain and suffering, in consequence of their actions.
Setting: Ethan Frome is distinctive for its use of setting.
Unable to bear the thought of living without one another, the couple agree to steer the sled into the massive elm tree at the foot of the hill.
It is better to die in one another's arms, they decide, than to live apart.
The aptly named Starkfield is a place of bitter hardship, struggle, and deprivation.
The desperate poverty of its inhabitants is equaled only by the unforgiving landscape.
Running away together would cause a scandal, haunting them for the rest of their lives.
As members of the impoverished class, there would be no money to buy their way to freedom, to travel far enough and secretly enough to start anew.
Desperate, Ethan resolves to cheat one of his own clients and friends, Mr.
Hale, by requesting an advance on a lumber shipment that he knows he will not be around to deliver. Hale praises Ethan for his loyalty to Zeena, Ethan is guilt-stricken.