Facts in Ethan Frome

Facts Examples in Ethan Frome:

Prologue 1

"popular science..."   (Prologue)

The fact that science, engineering, and technology are the subjects that are finally able to spark conversation between the narrator and Ethan echoes the interests of the time. As Ethan Frome is set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, technological and scientific advancements are important and interesting topics. Consider also the hint of surprise when the narrator discovers that Ethan, a rural farmer, is interested in and knowledgeable about these topics.

"Worcester..."   (Chapter I)

Worcester is a town located in Massachusetts. During the time frame that Ethan Frome is set in, the town was a main center for learning and scientific exploration in Massachusetts. Because of this, Worcester is not only recognizable by readers, it is also linked to the new—to progress. Starkfield pales in comparison.

"turnipwatch..."   (Chapter I)

A “turnipwatch” is a type of pocket watch. The term “turnip” was used to describe something that was big and awkward to carry. Due to their size and awkwardness, these types of watches went out of style once smaller versions were invented. Additionally, this bulky watch is also described as “old” and “silver,” or in other words, out-of-style and possibly regarded as second-best.

"the Pleiades..."   (Chapter I)

The Pleiades, also known as “The Seven Sisters,” is a star-cluster in the Taurus constellation. This star-cluster’s visibility helped ancient cultures all over the world mark the arrival of the winter season. This star-cluster also came to mark the start of the “sailing season,” and thus, was often associated with work and discipline.

"Aldebaran..."   (Chapter I)

Aldebaran is a star in the constellation Taurus. It has been commonly associated with fire since 1886, when Edward C. Pickering of Harvard College Observatory captured the bright red color of the star in a photograph that was published in the popular Draper Catalogue of the time. Note again, the association of the color red with Mattie Silver.

"Stamford..."   (Chapter I)

Stamford is a city in Connecticut, that is currently popular as a housing option for Manhattan, New York commuters. Business in the city boomed around the time Ethan Frome is set in and it continues to be a major business hub on the East Coast, earning the nickname “The City That Works.” Note that Mattie Silver has relocated from this buzzing business center to the sleepy town of Starkfield, something that her cousin Zeena worries might produce feelings of “isolation.”

"Virginia reel..."   (Chapter I)

The “Virginia Reel” is a type of dance that originally comes from a traditional Irish dance called “Rinnce Fadha.” Over time, it evolved into a kind of “country” or “barn” dance, as it became popular in rural colonial barns and farmhouses. As it has a reputation for being a very lively, almost rambunctious dance, there is a stark contrast here between Ethan as a cold, unlively observer and the warm, energetic scene he is viewing.

"exhausted receiver..."   (Chapter I)

An “exhausted receiver” is a term used in physics to describe a thing that used to “receive” air (hold it) but from which the air has been “exhausted” (let out) from it. Essentially, this creates a vacuum that was not there before.

"electric battery..."   (Chapter III)

In the mid 1800s, Benjamin Franklin experimented with electricity as a powerful pain-reliever. The electric battery was thought to stimulate nerve-endings in muscles to relieve aches and pains. This concept has evolved into what is known today as “electrotherapy” and is still popular for muscle pain relief.

"Carmen..."   (Chapter III)

“Carmen” is a famous opera written by the French composer Georges Bizet and first performed in Paris in 1875. The opera is about a man named Don José who abandons his “duties” towards his country and his wife for a gypsy named Carmen, with whom he is infatuated.

"The Lost Chord..."   (Chapter III)

“The Lost Chord” is a famous classical song composed in 1877 by Arthur Sullivan for his brother, Fred, who had fallen ill. The song was based on an earlier poem written by Adelaide Anne Procter entitled “A Lost Chord” published in 1858. After the song was popularized, it was often performed by Arthur’s mistress, a singer named Fanny Ronalds.

"“Curfew shall not ring to-night,”..."   (Chapter III)

This is an allusion to a sixty-line poem entitled “Curfew Must Not Ring To-Night” by Rose Hartwick Thorpe, published in 1870. The poem is about a woman named Bessie whose beloved is sentenced to execution at the time the “curfew bell” rings (typically around eight or nine o’clock in the evening) one night. She begs that the curfew bell not be rung to no avail, after which she stands on top of the bell tower and stops it on her own. Her beloved is pardoned after Cromwell (the political leader) is moved by her efforts.

"Sirius..."   (Chapter IX)

“Sirius” is the brightest star in our sky, and in Greek its name means “glowing.” It is part of the constellation “Canis Major” which translates to “The Greater Dog.”