What is missing from Ethan's house, and why does this strike the narrator as important in Ethan Frome?

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What's chiefly lacking are any signs of comfort, any things that would "make a house a home," as the saying goes. It is a bare bones setup indicating, first, that Frome is poverty stricken, and second, that the situation as it exists in the house is one of the unhappiness of the residents and a dysfunctional dynamic among them. The furnishings are sparse and neglected; we are told that Matty is seated in a soiled armchair. The dinner table is set poorly and we're told that mince pie is being served from a battered pie dish. The narrator also describes the pie as having an unappetizing appearance. The fire had gone out and Matty, immobilized in her chair, had to wait for Zeena to wake up and light it again, so the house was bitter cold.

The additional thing lacking is the enclosed passageway typical of New England farms that connects the house with the barn. Frome explains that for cost reasons he had to "take it down" some time ago. This, too, is a sign of his poverty and his being...

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