How Does the Framed Narrative Have an Effect in Ethan Frome?

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How Does The Framed Narrative Have An Effect In Ethan Frome? In the prologue, Wharton sets the frame for the main story. The prologue (and epilogue) take place some twenty years after the events of the main story and are written in the first person. The anonymous Narrator describes his first impressions of Ethan Frome and about how he pieced together the story of Ethan Frome from personal observation and from fragments of the story told to him by townspeople. The prologue not only introduces The Narrator, but also describes Starkfield and the winter setting, inhabitants of Starkfield, and provokes curiosity about the tragedy experienced by Ethan Frome. Frome is a badly crippled but striking older man whom the Narrator has seen at the post office in Starkfield. Harmon Gow, a former stagecoach driver who knows the histories of all the Starkfield families, responds to the Narrator’s questions about Frome by telling him that Frome was disfigured in a “smash-up,” an accident that occurred 24 years ago. But Gow provides few details. The framed narrative told in the first-person by the Narrator builds suspense around Ethan Frome and the events leading to the “smash-up” that disfigured him. By telling the story through the device of the frame, the Narrator is trying to learn a story that has already happened; Wharton gives Ethan’s story a sense of inevitability. By introducing his story as a flashback, the Narrator makes very clear the fact that what we are about to read is not a factual record of the occurrences leading up to Ethan's accident, but his own impressions of what those occurrences may have been. According to The Narrator, Ethan has the remains of a once powerful and sensitive man, whom is now bound and frustrated by the crippling effects of a sledding accident. Even though Ethan is only fifty-two years old, he looks as though he is "dead and in hell." Wharton builds suspense when she reveals that the Narrator is also intrigued by the look of incredible...
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