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What Metaphor Does the Narrator Use to Describe Winter in Starkfield?


Pulitzer Prize winning author Edith Wharton's 1911 classic "Ethan Frome" begins during the late 19th century in a fictional Massachusetts community called Starkfield. Starkfield is a rural and impoverished farming village set apart from a modernizing urban society. The story is narrated by an engineer who is a stranger to Starkfield and who gleans bits and pieces of the narrative from other villagers. The book follows the story of farmer Ethan Frome, whose alienation from his wife Zeena leads to a complicated attraction to her impoverished cousin Mattie Silver.

Starkfield the Stark

The relationship between Ethan and Mattie unfolds over the course of four days during a desolate and bitterly cold Starkfield February. The narrator introduces the metaphor of a besieged city to describe the sensibility of a Starkfield winter. The winter seems never to end, and it forces residents to secure and isolate themselves in whatever shelter is available so as to endure half a year of unrelenting snow. The winter, it seems, wages war on the people of Starkfield.

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