Ethan Frome

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Ethan Frome
The red pickle dish represents the Frome’s marriage. The pickle dish was a wedding present for Zeena and Ethan. Zeena considered it her most prized possession, storing it away at the top of the China cabinet. Just like the stored away dish, Ethan and Zeena’s love had been put away once married. The first night Zeena is gone; Mattie takes out the plate and uses it during dinner. By defying her sister’s wishes and using the dish, Mattie unintentionally defies Zeena and Ethan’s marriage. The breaking of the dish can represent different things. According to Ethan, the broken dish represents his broken dinner plans with Mattie. A night he was excited for ended up being an average night. The breaking of the dish, however, could also represent the breaking of Zeena and Ethan’s marriage, since it was a clear symbol of their marriage. The dish broke under the weight of Ethan and Mattie’s relationship. Ethan then attempts to hide the dish from Zeena, hiding the failure of their marriage and his feelings for Mattie. His deception failed when Zeena found the broken dish. The broken plate was basically dead to her, just like her marriage was dead. She cried at this discovery, showing her human side. Zeena seems to understand the symbolism of the dish, and she cries when she finally realizes the only thing left she loved in her marriage was broken. Instead of trying to fix the dish, Zeena only sulks over the remnants of the shattered plate. Like the plate, she does not attempt to fix her marriage either. The pickle dish becomes a clear symbol that the Frome marriage has failed under the relationship between Mattie and Ethan, and neither Ethan nor Zeena care to fix the broken marriage. Although upset, they both move on.

Ethan’s mind is being pulled in two directions and he battles between his love for Mattie and his duty to his wife. When Ethan’s mother got sick, Zeena came to help take care of her. Ethan like the feeling of companionship with someone, so when...
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