A brilliant novel by Edith Wharton present a non-typical love story. Ethan Frome and his wife’s cousin Mattie Silver fall in love, however, they cannot be together because of sick Zeena. Despite strong feelings experienced by both Ethan and Mattie, they realize they cannot overcome Ethan’s marriage and his responsibility for his disabled wife. The novel is full of deep symbolism. A broken pickle dish appears to be one of the most important and vivid symbols of fractured marriage of Zeena and Ethan.
The symbol of the pickle dish is valuable, because this was Zeena’s favorite wedding present, and she liked him very much. When she moved to visit her doctor to the town nearby, Ethan and Mattie were left alone and enjoyed this time. However, the cat suddenly broke Zeena’s beloved wedding present, and Ethan realized it would have serious outcomes for him. He hid the broken dish from Zeena, however, she finally found it. As well as the dish was wedding present, it symbolizes Ethan’s and Zeena’s relationships that were in trouble at that moment. “The fragments of the red glass pickle-dish” (Wharton 111) symbolize the broken marriage and the lack of mutual understanding between the partners that once loved each other. Because of Ethan’s new passion, he and Zeena could not be family any more. Both Ethan and Zeena realized the fact that their marriage outlived itself.

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The novel Ethan Frome has different important symbols that demonstrate the true meaning of it in details. The symbol of the broken pickle dish shows the end of Ethan’s and Zeena’s marriage, the lack of love and respect experienced to one another. Ethan falls in love with Mattie that makes him reevaluate the entire life and understand he is unhappy with Zeena. Apparently, the broken dish is crucial for understanding the sense of the novel’s love story.

  • Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction. New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2007. Print.