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Chapter 8 Summary

After Zeena walks out of the room, Mattie begins to do the dishes and Ethan performs his usual night duties outside. When he returns, the kitchen is empty and Ethan goes to his small study behind the parlor. On a trip to the kitchen for his pipe and tobacco, Ethan finds a scrap of paper on which Mattie has written, “Don’t trouble, Ethan.” Back in his study, Ethan begins to fume and form thoughts of rebellion. He reflects that Zeena has become

a hundred times bitterer and more discontented than when he had married her.

His thoughts turn to a couple he knows, a man who left his wife and started a new life with a woman he loved. How easy it would be to just walk away with Mattie and leave Zeena nothing but a letter. He even starts writing the letter, but soon the reality of his situation settles over him like a dark, heavy mantle. The farm and the mill are heavily mortgaged, and though he might make a go of it on his own, Ethan has to ensure he can make a living for both Mattie and himself. And Zeena would have nothing; she would have to go back to her family. He scans the newspaper for ticket prices to the West and discovers he cannot even afford the...

(The entire section is 441 words.)