Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton Discussion

On Wednesday, March 17, 2010, we are discussing Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton in the large study room at the Harnish building. I hope you will be there.

I hadn’t read Ethan Frome before, but I had read some other Wharton works and I was instrumental in leading a recent books blog tour of Edith Wharton. See the tour in retrospect for bloggers’ input on some of her works and see the introductory post for a brief biography of Wharton’s life and summary of her major works.

Here are some discussion questions for Wednesday night’s discussion. I’ve kept it more brief this time because we seem to find plenty to discuss not related to these ones. I’ll probably have more with me, but this is to get you thinking if you do read this website.

  1. Examine the characters in Ethan Frome (including Ethan Frome, Zeena Frome, Mattie Silver, and the narrator). Who is strong and who is weak? Who do we know most about? What changes do they go through over the course of the novel? Does the portrayal of each character seem realistic?
  2. Examine the setting (both the city of Starkfield and the season) in Ethan Frome. What roll does it play in the story?
  3. Consider the framing technique, as begun in the Prologue. Why did Wharton use that technique? How does that affect the telling of the story?
  4. Consider the gravestone Ethan Frome finds: Ethan Frome and Endurance His Wife. How does that relate to the story?
  5. Symbolism in the story: Yeay or nay?
  6. Overall reactions: Did the characters deserve their fates? Did you sympathize with any of them? Did you like the characters and the novel overall?
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