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Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome


by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome Chapter 8 Summary

  • Ethan has a little make-shift study that he hadn't used in a while be because the heater that previously heated it was given to Mattie for her room.
  • When Zeena was safely sleeping, Ethan headed to that room.
  • He and Mattie hadn't talked after the scene, but when he'd come in from doing his final chores he found a note left by Mattie before she went to bed.
  • It said, "Don't trouble, Ethan."
  • This was his first note ever from Mattie.
  • The note makes him feel closer to her.
  • Wrestling with his mind, Ethan decides he can have happiness.
  • He doesn't have to live this way.
  • There was this guy who left his wife for a younger woman.
  • By leaving her the farm, the man had made sure the left wife would have something to live on, and moved West.
  • Ethan had met the couple and seen their cute little baby.
  • He decides to write Zeena a letter and then leave with Mattie the next day.
  • As he writes he begins to have doubts.
  • The farm isn't worth anything to sell, and there is no way Zeena could do any of the work on it.
  • Oh well, he thinks. She can go live with her relatives and he will eventually pay her alimony.
  • He finds a newspaper so he can look at the cost of a trip West.
  • Crushed, Ethan learns that he can't even afford the cheapest ticket, and nobody would loan him any money.
  • He cries and falls asleep thinking of how he and Mattie were supposed to sled tonight.
  • When he wakes up, he realizes it's Mattie's final day on the farm.
  • Mattie is waiting for him.
  • She'd heard him leave the house last night and had not heard him return.
  • They move to the kitchen.
  • Ethan touches Mattie and says, "I don't want you should trouble either" (8.24).
  • She agrees not to.
  • Ethan warns her not to let Zeena get to her today.
  • When Jotham comes in he tells Ethan that Zeena asked him to drive Mattie away.
  • Ethan says that he will be the one to drive Mattie.
  • When Zeena comes in she tells Mattie she's arranged for her trunk to be transported.
  • Mattie thanks her.
  • Determined to give it another shot, Ethan decides to use Zeena's illness as an excuse to get Andrew Hale to loan him some money.
  • Mrs. Hale is very sweet to him, and tells him she feels bad that he's had such a hard life.
  • He hadn't experienced that level of kindness in some time.
  • This increased his confidence in getting the loan.
  • But he can't go through with it.
  • He sees himself as a man about to swindle two elderly people who believe in him, and then abandon a sick woman.
  • Ethan walks back home.

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