| Quote #1
"There are things in that book that I didn't know the first word about," he said. (Prologue.35)
Here, the theme of education is introduced. Ethan is marveling at what he's read about biochemistry in the engineer's magazine. Only by the end of the novella can we fully see how much Ethan's lack of education factors into his tragedy.
| Quote #2
His unfinished studies had given form to this sensibility and even in his unhappiest moments field and sky spoke to him with a deep and powerful persuasion. (1.11)
According to this passage, education can stimulate love and understanding of natural beauty. That Ethan's education is "unfinished" suggests that he's only understanding a fraction of what he could if he only had received more education.
| Quote #3
His father's death, and the misfortunes following it, had put a premature end to Ethan's studies […]. (1.2)
Ethan will mourn his loss forever. A fine mind that will never reach it's full potential. Is it Ethan's own fault that he didn't continue studying, or are his circumstances to blame? If you say both are responsible, would you assign greater blame to one or the other?