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What role, physical description, and attributes do these characters have in Ethan...

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madenab | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 30, 2009 at 3:11 PM via web

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What role, physical description, and attributes do these characters have in Ethan Frome? Ethan Frome, Zeena, Mattie, narrator, Harman Gow, Mrs. Ned Hale, Andrew Hale, Ned Hale, Dennis Eady, Joham Powell, Widow Homan, Aunt Martha Pierce, Dr. Buck, Aunt Philura Maple

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted January 31, 2010 at 8:49 AM (Answer #1)

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In the book Ethan Frome, Ehan is a broken man.  He was once a university student who had to return home to care for his sick mother.  He is responsible and dependable.  He is also resolved to his fate and punishment for his actions with Mattie Silver.

When Ethan was younger he married Zeena out of obligation.  He stayed by her in a miserable existence until Mattie Silver came along.  Ethan began to find joy with Mattie around.  He laughed and danced, rode the sleigh with her, and found love.  After their accident he endures a lifetime of self-inflicted punishment as a twist of fate.

Zeena is needy and sickly.  She appears to be more of a hypochondriacthan really ill.  She is bitter and fearful of being put out by her husband.  However, she is also strong and manipulative.  Zeena has a narrow face with a thin nose.  In the beginning of the story she has brown hair but as she ages she gets gray hair.

Mattie Silver has bright eyes and is frail and pale.  She has a cheerful childlike disposition.  She wants to please but is clumsy and not a very good cook.  She is also lonely and poor.  She brightens after she falls in love with Ethan.  By the end of the book she has become paralyzed by a broken spine.  She is gray haired and dependent on Zeena and Ethan for all of her care.

 

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