How we cite our quotes:
"He's looked that way ever since he had his smash-up; and that's twenty-four years ago come next February […]" (Prologue.3)
We see Ethan's transformation before we hear his story. The fact that he has gone through some kind of great transformation is a big part of what draws the narrator to him.
The "smash-up" it was-I gathered from the same informant-which, besides drawing the red gash across Ethan Frome's forehead, had so shortened and warped his right side that it cost him a visible effort to take the few steps from his buggy to the post-office window. (Prologue.4)
We just thought you might like to see this description of Ethan's injury, his physical transformation. The "red gash" reminds us of the red ribbons in Mattie's hair.
"We're kinder side-tracked here now," he added, "but there was considerable passing before the railroad was carried through to the Flats." (Prologue.55)
This passage points to the transformation of Starkfield. While the area can be said to have progressed, with it's increased rail service, Starkfield has been damaged, just like Ethan.