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Overcoming Obstacles

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Overcoming Obstacles

Most characters in a book sometimes go through some sort of conflict. This conflict can be within oneself or between others. The main goal of the book sometimes is to conquer these conflicts. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is a classic example of how the main character must strive through the conflicts to achieve their goals.

Ethan Frome had a complicated life from the start of the book. Both his parents had died and his mom had a slow death. He took care of his mother with the help of his future wife Zeena. This wasn't the end of his problems his wife had gotten sick following his mother's perish. Ethan went through many problems to somewhat achieve to accomplish his goals. The setting of Starkfield sets the mood of the story from the beginning. Starkfield has a very low population and the cold winters make everyone feel emotionally distressed. The setting is very bleak and depressing. Ethan's wife is his main problem throughout the book. He doesn't want to divorce her because she would have no one else. He also feels obligated to her because she helped nurse Ethan's sick mother and he paid her back by marrying her.

As time had passed, Ethan began to lose feelings for his wife Zeena. One reason for losing interest in Zeena is because she began to have the same symptoms as his mother and he couldn't take it anymore. However, the main reason why Ethan began losing feelings for Zeena is when Mattie, Zeena's cousin, had moved in. Even though they were six or seven years apart he had some sort of affection for her. Mattie was a very happy character compared to his wife and the rest of the town. She was the only person that could cheer him up. The main conflict was now arising, should he actually reveal his feelings about Mattie. This strong affection for her is seen by Zeena from the start. She questions Ethan and what they do together. She explicitly tells Ethan that she knows that he has much affection for Mattie. At this point Ethan is trying to "stand on two boats at once" one side trying to keep Zeena happy and also showing affection to Mattie. Ethan's money troubles stand as another obstacle. Ethan cannot afford to run away with Mattie because he isn't going to get enough money for the farm and it is too expensive to run away with her west. Even though he tries to ask for money, his conscience kicks in and is too embarrassed to ask people.

Ethan attempts suicide to relieve all his stress. Mattie asks Ethan to crash into the big elm tree so they would die together. However, they survive to live a miserable, maimed existence in the presence of Zeena. In the end as the narrator walks in he sees three people. Mattie has turned into a crippled person and Ethan has become a half-shriveled and bitter man. Zeena "takes care" of the house and Mattie. Even though Ethan wasn't able to solve his problems,



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