In the novelette of Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton three characters seem to grope onto Ethan. Though these three women have a specific significance to the plot, nevertheless each is vital for the outcome and evolution of Ethan. The three women are Ethan’s mother, Mattie Silver, and Zeena.
Ethan’s mother is not as significant as most major characters. Her role in the story comes right from the start. The woman is the reason why Ethan must return home and provide the necessary care needed for his mom. Though she eventually dies, she establishes the reason for Ethan’s stay at Starkfield. Her personality is pretty gloom when she was near her deathbed. Ethan’s mom use to look out the window to see sledges and carriages pass but since the railroad was built there was no need for using the road and thus no more people came around. This makes Ethan’s mom seem to be isolated and death was a release for her at least. “”(Wharton- ).
Mattie Silver has a huge effect on Ethan’s life. Mattie Silver is the cousin of Zeena whose parents had died and she is left with only fifty dollars to make her way through life. Zeena decides to take Mattie in so that she can help out around the house. Mattie is a lively young woman. She enjoys laughing and talking and dancing, at least when there is a social event at Starkfield. Mattie is the complete opposite of what Zeena had become and this is what attracts Ethan to Mattie so much. It is always quite around the Frome household and with Mattie there. The mood seems to lighten up. Well at the end Ethan can’t be without Mattie and so in a last ditch effort to be together. Mattie and Ethan decide to take their life by crashing into an elm tree. Needless to say both were hurt very severely. Ethan was left with a limp and Mattie became bound to a chair and most of the time ill. “” (Wharton-).
Zeena is the most influential person in Ethan’s life. At the beginning Ethan comes home to care for his mother.