Silence is a big symbol in Ethan's life. He wants laughter and sound, but he always gets silence. We learn Ethan married Zeena because she was the first voice he had heard in his house since his mother stopped talking. Ironically, Zeena soon lost her voice too. Ethan is always described as the strong, silent type, and only Mattie seems to be able to help him free his voice. Again we see Ethan's desire being granted to him, but with a bitter twist. In this case Ethan wished for a house full of noise, and he got the transformed, damaged Mattie Silver "droning querulously" night and day (Prologue.62).