Ethan Frome Questions and Answers
by Edith Wharton

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In the novel Ethan Frome what is the symbolic significance of Starkfield in winter ?

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The setting of Ethan Frome is New England, specifically the town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. While the town is fictional, the description that accompanies it very much resembles a traditional town of that area, specifically at the end of the 1800s.  As a town going through changes, and in light of the impact of the modernization that came at the onset of the 20th century, Starkfield is salient for the little effect that this otherwise “worldwide” trend has on it.

Like the name implies, the town is indeed “stark,” that is, plain, unadorned; just not “special.” Added to this are the seemingly perennial coldness that prevented good crops and the long winters that froze whatever had been able to germinate. 

The symbolism of...

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