The Broken Jar In Wharton's Ethan Frome

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The Broken Jar
In the novel Ethan Frome, the main character has to choose between his wife, Zeena, and Mattie. After his wife leaves Mattie and him alone for the night, Mattie uses the red pickle dish which wounds up getting broken by the cat that night. Is this a symbol? Symbolism is when an object is used to mean something other than its original meaning. WIth all the events that happened before and after the glass breaking, it is obvious that the broken dish symbolizes Ethan and Zeena’s marriage. Zenna failed to keep her marriage happy and unbroken, while Ethan tried to live a lie.
The pickle dish was one of Zeena's most valuable possessions. Zeena received this gift the day her and Ethan became wedded as one. “it was a wedding present-don’t you remember? It came all the way from Philadelphia...that’s why she wouldn’t ever use it” (Wharton 32). This quote shows how Mattie truly understood the severity of the situation. Ethan, on the other hand, took the situation light heartedly showing that he little to no type of feeling for the dish. He could barely remember where it even came from. As the broken pieces laid there, ts seemed that Ethan's life had crashed before his eyes. He could be
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Zeena had a sort of authority over Ethan which is given the perspective of the cat. The cat in this novel seemed resemble Zeena to a great extent. Both the cat and Zeena have very slick, sly, and destructive behaviors. “The cat backs into the pickle dish and it falls to the floor with a crash,” ( Wharton 32) “then jumped into Zeena's chair, rolled itself into a ball, and lay watching them [Ethan and Mattie] with narrowed eyes.” (Wharton 34) These quotes demonstrate that although Zeena ruined the marriage, for some reason she wanted to keep Ethan around. The meaning behind this symbol stands to illustrate that Zeena is solely responsible for the distance that has been created between her and her

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