Ethan Frome Questions and Answers
by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why was Ethan Frome a strong person (character)?

Expert Answers info

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,967 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Ethan is strong in that he doesn't kill himself. He continues plugging on, even though he is barely alive. I guess you could also suggest that cheating on his horrible wife would show some strength. He was responding to his own needs instead of being under her thumb.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

bookM.A. from The University of Alabama


calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Edith Wharton employs the word exanimate in describing the setting of her novella. This is the mot juste, the perfect word, to describe Ethan Frome.  All the passions in his blood were dashed against the tree that fateful day with Mattie because he has always depended upon others for feelings.  That is why he asked Zeena to marry him when his mother died.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer, ESL/TEFL Instructor

bookM.A. from Chapman University


calendarEducator since 2008

write5,713 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

Just to be able to put up with Zeena even knowing all that she was doing to him financially, psychologically, and socially, tells anyone that Ethan's level of tolerance is his strongest characteristic.  He seems to be able to accept the many disappointments he has had in life. However, that very well may be simply pessimism on his part, and the expectation of the worst.

(The entire section contains 7 answers and 687 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write4,539 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Kendall Bartell, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor

bookB.A. from Point Loma Nazarene University

bookM.A. from National University


calendarEducator since 2004

write232 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

charcunning eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write224 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


udonbutterfly | Student

The reason why Ethan was such a strong character, in my opinion, is because he surprised his desire to not only live but love. Ethan dreamed all the time of living in a big city, designing architecture and attending college but that was all thrown out when his father died and he had to take care of his mother. He though the best thing to do was look after the farm and his mother than going out and pursuing his dream. Also no matter how bad of a marriage that Ethan is in with Zenobia and has fallen in love with Mattie, he fails to cave into his passion. Ethan is truly a strong man.