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Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome

by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What might the story look like from Zeena's point of view? From Mattie's? Do you think the narrator does a good job of showing us Ethan's point of view?
  2. Is Ethan a believable character? Why or why not?
  3. Do you identify with any of the characters? If so which ones and why?
  4. What could Mattie have said to Ruth when she woke up after the accident? Why can't Ruth repeat it? Is this mystery important?
  5. Ruth Varnum gets the last word in the story. Why? Do you agree with her statement that Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena would be better off dead?
  6. Harmon Gow tells the narrator that Ethan takes care of Mattie and Zeena. Ruth tells the narrator that Zeena takes care of Ethan and Mattie. Who is right? How do you know? Can both be right?
  7. Why do you think that the book is structured in this particular way, with the main story from the past sandwiched in between the Prologue and Epilogue showing Ethan and company 24 years later?
  8. We didn't see much humor in this story. What about you? If you did find humor, where? If not, do you think this was a wise choice for the novel? Would a little humor have heightened the tragedy, or would it be out of place in the story?

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