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Ethan Frome - Chapter summary PROLOGUE One thing that sets Ethan Frome apart from other novels is the way the story is told Edith Wharton doesnt just start at the beginning and tell you what happens Rather she uses a narrator who knows no more about Ethan Frome than you do The narrator who remains nameless is a young engineer He tells you how he uncovered Ethans story bit by bit He recounts what people said to him and what he observed during the months he spent in Ethans hometown one winter long ago This opening chapter is a prologue to the main story It introduces the narrator describes the town and surrounding countryside describes some townspeople and starts to build some of the novels major themes But most of all it stirs your curiosity about Ethan Frome The narrator you directly by saying If youk now Starkfield Massachusetts you know the post office The post office is where he first laid saw Ethan Every day at noon Ethan parked his buggy at the curb and picked up mail at the post office window He rarely got anything except the local newspaper and an occasional package of patent medicine addressed to his wife Zeena Frome Ethan seldom talked to anybody When someone addressed him he answered quietly with as few words as possible before mounting his buggy and driving slowly back to his farm He appears to be a cheerless broken manEthan catches the narrators eye because his looks are striking Tall and powerful Ethan must have been a strong man at one time But now he hobbles when he walks his shoulders sag and he has a red gash the scar of an old wound across his forehead To the narrator Ethan looks as though he was dead and in heel Yet he is only fifty-two years old Harmon Gow Starkfields stage driver explains Ethans
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