Zeena Symbolism

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The changing of colors in certain settings of the book represent the transition from Ethan’s constrained lifestyle to breaking from the chains that bound him in a loveless marriage with Zeena. Ethan recalls “what a colourless slip of a thing [Mattie] had looked the day he had met her at the station” (Wharton, 31), similar to the pale appearance of his own wife. However, Mattie’s habit of blushing and wearing colorful clothing seem to represent Ethan’s development of feelings toward her. This is in contrast to Zeena, who remains a bitter and repressive character throughout the entire story. The final scene in the novel shows the change between two colors that Mattie and Zeena symbolize, finally showing Ethan’s acknowledgement of his real desires.
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