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Ethan Frome & Summer

by

Ethan Frome & Summer Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. Many critics have disagreed with Wharton's choice of narrative style in Ethan Frome, saying it is unrealistic that an outside character could intimately know all the details of the Frome household. Wharton, however, felt the narrative style necessary to convey the harshness of the story and the taciturn nature of New Englanders. What are the pros and cons of the third person narrative? Do you feel the narrative style hurts or hinders the story and its implied moral?

2. Consider Ethan's courting of Zeena and his "courting" of Mattie. How do they differ? Do you feel Ethan is a different person at these two times in his life, or is it Mattie that makes the difference?

3. Do you feel the "accident" at the end of Ethan Frome was Wharton's way of ending the story in a neat and tidy way? If not, what are the implications of the two disfigured people and their new life?

4. At first, Charity is ashamed of her biological ties to "the Mountain." Yet, she visits some of the inhabitants with Harney, the person whose opinion matters most to her. Why does she put herself in this situation?

5. Consider the town name of North Dormer, the most popular library book being Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the disrepair of many estates around North Dormer. What is Wharton saying about New England, its society, and its attitude to art?

6. Summer's ending marriage between Charity and Lawyer Royall is quite disturbing for many readers. What are the implications of this marriage? Consider his first interactions with Charity in the beginning of the story compared to his later interactions with her at the end of the story. Has his character changed?

7. While the novellas take place in New England, Ethan Frome's action revolves around winter and Summer's action revolves around summer. Both dark, sexually explorative tales, why did Wharton choose to set them in two different seasons? How do the seasons further, and hinder, the stories?

8. Compare Mattie, a more reserved woman, and Charity, who at first is independent and assertive. While their personalities are at first different, their final situations are sadly quite similar. What is Wharton saying about New England society and the women who live in it?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375757280
Introduction:
Strout, Elizabeth
Publisher:
Modern Library
Introduction by:
Strout, Elizabeth
Introduction:
Strout, Elizabeth
Author:
Wharton, Edith
Author:
Strout, Elizabeth
Location:
New York
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Farm life
Subject:
New england
Subject:
Young women
Subject:
Married people
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Rural poor
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Guardian and ward
Subject:
Berkshire Hills
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Modern Library Classics
Series Volume:
15
Publication Date:
20010531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
7.99x5.14x.69 in. .54 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Ethan Frome & Summer New Trade Paper
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$9.00 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Modern Library - English 9780375757280 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This book features two of Wharton's most famous novels — "Ethan Frome and Summer" — both set in dark, rigid New England far from Wharton's socialite New York.

Ethan Frome is the story of a young man, trapped in an unfulfilling marriage to an ailing older woman. Yearning for his wife's orphaned cousin who has come to live on his isolated farm, Ethan Frome learns the power of local convention to smother the growth of an individual.

Summer, Wharton's most daringly erotic novel, tells of Charity Royall, bored in a small New England town until she meets visiting architect Lucius Harney. A story about love, desire, and blooming adulthood, it is a study of society, nature, and human needs.

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