Literary Devices in Ethan Frome
Frame Story: The novel uses this technique (also known as “story within a story”) by beginning with the unnamed narrator’s desire to find out more about the mysterious Ethan Frome. Through Frome’s own words, the drama of the previous twenty-five years unfolds. Because readers know what will become of Ethan—he will be scarred but alive and living with a woman—the retelling of Ethan’s life is colored with a sense of inevitability, since the events retold cannot be altered. The main questions that linger in readers’ heads are what brings Ethan to be a “ruin of a man” and which of the two women remains with him.