Ethan Frome

How would you describe the tone of the discussion of Zeena's illness and complications?


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There's a lot of nervousness, frustration, and impatience in this chapter. When Zeena tells Ethan, ominously, that she's sicker than he realizes. She has "complications." Ethan is torn between hoping for her death and feeling pity for her, but his compassion is stronger than his selfishness. The conversation is tense, full of blunders; Zeena is picky and irritable. She tells him that the doctor thinks she should rest for months, without doing any work whatsoever. The doctor has recommended a hired girl, and Zeena has already contracted one to come. Ethan becomes angry; he simply doesn't have the money for it.