Ethan Frome Chapter 2
Denis Eady asks Mattie if he can take her home. An eavesdropping Ethan is scared, then happy again as Mattie refuses Denis's offer. He rushes to catch up with Mattie, and they head home. They pass the field with the big hill and the elm tree, where the local people sled, and Ethan promises to take her sledding one day.
Mattie's constant extremes in moods affect Ethan so much that he has to assure himself that she does care for him. He wishes that he could tell her how he feels, how he ardently longs for her affection; he wishes that he could be as free and open with his feelings as Mattie is with hers. An angry Mattie asks Ethan if he wants her to leave.
As they continue walking in silence, the passing countryside is as somber and bleak as their conversation. Ethan asks her if she wants to leave, to which Mattie replies, "Where'd I go, if I did?" Chapter 2, pg. 49. Ethan, joyous from Mattie's response, feels warm and secure about his future. They pass the Frome graveyard on their way to the house. Ethan usually believes that the spirits of the graveyard seem to call out to him, "We never got away - how should you?" Chapter 2, pg. 50. With Mattie by his side, the sight of the gravestones comforts him. Ethan envisions that he and Mattie will lie there together in death.
When they reach home, they find that Zeena has not left the key out for them as she always does. While they try to figure out a way to get inside the house, Zeena opens the door and startles them. Mattie, her lips, cheeks, and scarf a matching red, enters the house, in sharp contrast to the cold and sullen Zeena.
The sight of Zeena shakes Ethan out of his warm and secure reverie. His bleak and lonely vision of the future and his unavoidable mortality return.