In Ethan Frome, explain how Harmon's statement is ironic when he says that Ethan's pride will not let him press for the advance.In the Prologue, Harmon Gow told the narrator that "...[Ethan]...

In Ethan Frome, explain how Harmon's statement is ironic when he says that Ethan's pride will not let him press for the advance.

In the Prologue, Harmon Gow told the narrator that "...[Ethan] wouldn't be sorry to earn a dollar." In Chapter 4, how does this quote prove to be ironic?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is the tragic story of Ethan Frome of Starkfield, Massachusetts. The Fromes have always been poor, and once Ethan's parents died things got even worse. Harmon Gow's statement that Ethan would be happy to earn an extra dollar is true. He needs the money and he has no pride left. In the narrator's "vision" of Ethan's life, though, there is only one thing Ethan cares enough about to swallow his pride--Mattie Silver. He helps her do chores around the house and even scrubs the floor at night when the household is asleep. He endures Zeena's sly innuendos and caustic remarks because he cares for Mattie.

Ethan only mentions getting money for the load of lumber because he wants to get out of taking Zeena to the train and potentially spendmore time with Mattie. He does ask, but he does so rather half-heartedly and does not press the issue. Ethan

did not want Andrew Hale, or any one else in Starkfield, to think he was going under again.

The irony, of course, is that he is in a great position at this moment in time, compared to how bad things will be for him more than twenty years later. Things are not good for a young Ethan, but they will get much worse before it is all said and done and he will have no pride left by then.

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