The story takes place in Massachuesetts, long known for its cold and harsh winters. It can be expected that they have taken their toll on Ethan and shaped his personality and decisions. Additionally, the environment is one of immenent change. This span of time is sequestered during the time of great industrial and technological changes. Though they did not directly influence Ethan, it did impact him nonetheless in the decisions that others made around him. He married Zeena in the winter after his mother died because he didn't want to be left alone. The winter seems to have a heavy influence on Ethan.