Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Club Report: Ethan Frome

Spoiler Warning: This post is a short recap of my book club's discussion of
Ethan Frome. There will be spoilers.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this book club meeting. I honestly just don't remember very much except for one conversation. That discussion had to do with justification for having an affair. One member of our book club used to belong to another book group and they had read Ethan Frome. Her book club was similar to ours in that it was comprised of mostly conservative, religious women. When they discussed Ethan Frome she had been surprised at how many of them thought that Ethan was completely justified in having an affair with Mattie Silver (not that they really had an affair but it was the direction they were heading) because Zenobia was such an awful wife. I think we all agreed that no matter how terrible a spouse is there are other ways to lawfully and morally get out of the situation without having an affair. I can't really blame Ethan for wanting happiness with Mattie but I don't believe he was justified in his actions. What do you think?
This book is really so tragic. I wouldn't say that I admired Ethan as a person but I did like him and felt bad for him. He had so many dreams and he was on his way to fulfill them when responsibility and duty brought him back to his dismal fate. He stood by his family when his father was ill and then while his mother was dying and then tragically he proposed to a woman he didn't love because he was afraid of the loneliness. I think that is where it all went wrong. If he hadn't asked Zeena to marry him then he may have been able to sell the family farm and go be an engineer like he wanted. But in a brief moment of impulse, he tied himself to a tragic future. However, we all make mistakes and some of them are big ones like Ethan's but we just have to make the best of things sometimes. I was just talking to a friend who is going through some rough patches right now and she was telling me how she had been told by a well-meaning loved one that we can choose to be happy, no matter our circumstances. When her friend heard this advice she suggested, "Yes, we can choose to be happy but that doesn't take away the suckage." It's very true and Ethan had plenty of "suckage" in his life. Hopefully we can all learn to choose happiness and avoid the misery of the Ethan Fromes of this world.

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