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We are not told in specific terms in the story how Ethan felt about his situation, but Edith Wharton's writing style is quite subtle in order for the reader to make the final assumption.
What we do know, according to the text, is that Ethan was a bit embarrased when he allowed his guest into his house and the situation with Zeena and Mattie was taking place where Mattie, Ethan's former love interest and with whom Ethan became a cripple in a suicide pact, was sitting (also crippled) whining and complaining about the cold while Zeena, Ethan's wife, was tending to her ignoring her. Meanwhile the shack where Ethan and the women lived was messy, greasy, and ugly to look at. It was obvious that Ethan was experiencing the life of a prisoner of his own life. And he just was resignated to living the rest of his life in misery.
According to the text,
"My, it's cold here! The fire must be 'most out," Frome said, glancing about him apologetically as he followed me in.
The tall woman, who had moved away from us toward the dresser, took no notice; but the other, from her cushioned niche, answered complainingly, in a high thin voice. "It's on'y just been made up this very minute. Zeena fell asleep and slep' ever so long, and I thought I'd be frozen stiff before I could wake her up and get her to 'tend to it."
I knew then that it was she who had been speaking when we entered.
Her companion, who was just coming back to the table with the remains of a cold mince-pie in a battered pie-dish, set down her unappetising burden without appearing to hear the accusation brought against her.
Frome stood hesitatingly before her as she advanced; then he looked at me and said: "This is my wife, Mis' Frome." After another interval he added, turning toward the figure in the arm-chair: "And this is Miss Mattie Silver..."
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