Student Question

What situation in Chapter 6 of Ethan Frome leads Ethan to finally get the glue?

Quick answer:

Ethan Frome's situation with Zeena becomes more intense as he is forced to get glue to mend one of her broken objects.

Expert Answers

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In chapter 6 we witness one of Ethan's many desperate moments regarding Zeena. After Zeena's relished pickle dish accidentally breaks, Ethan has to find glue to mend it before Zeena returns from one of her many and costly medical therapies.

At first Ethan thought about sending Jotham to get it, but since Jotham already is tasked to pick up Zeena, Ethan chose to do the task himself.

The narrator explains that Ethan was doomed from the start, as it is expected from Ethan's exaggerated bouts of bad luck.

With ordinary luck he should have had time to carry out this plan; but everything went wrong from the start. On the way over to the wood-lot one of the greys slipped on a glare of ice and cut his knee; and when they got him up again Jotham had to go back to the barn for a strip of rag to bind the cut.

This immediately prevented Jotham from going, so Ethan carried on with his plan. This, of course, after one of his horses got injured, after the lumber went all over the place and after going to Michael Eady's, the town's apothecary/general store owner, who said that they were all sold out.

Desperate, Ethan ran to the widow Homan's house in search for it, regardless of Denis's (Eady's assistant) boasting that the widow would not carry what they carry.

Regardless of this, Ethan made one last attempt and hurried the widow's house and, after searching heedlessly for this one bottle, she finally found some glue which she gave him, not without giving a cautionary note that she "hoped that Zeena did not break anything she sets store by." These words are the foreshadowing of what the pickle dish issue will cause as Ethan comes back into his home.

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