This quote from the prologue suggest that Ethan was not smart by staying in town, he essentially isolated himself. Ethan Frome is not the only isolated character in the novel, Mattie is also an isolated person. Mattie was not always isolated from things. When her parents died causing her to get a job and move in with Zeena and Ethan Frome is when the true isolation started. Mattie gets stuck inside caring for Zeena most of the time at the Frome house, the same way Zeena cared for Ethan's mother. This is causing her to be trapped in the house all day with only Zeena to talk to occasionally. Mattie does not know anybody else to talk to since she is new to the area, she is cut off from society.
"The coming to his house of a bit of hopeful young life was like the lighting of a fire on a cold hearth" - Chapter 1
This quote is an example of how Ethan's love for Mattie keeps him trapped in Starkfield, making him not want to leave. Mattie and Ethan try to escape the isolation by trying to kill themselves, this ends up leaving the crippled for like and keeps the isolated in the house forever. Ethan wanted to get many things done thorough the novel. He wanted to make money for his family so he could afford the care Zeena needed. Determination was the second noticeable theme of the novel. Each character shoes signs of determination in the novel all the way until the end of it. At the start Ethan is was determined to get out of Starkfield and get a higher education than what he had. He went off to college leaving his family with the farm, getting a higher education would let him live outside of the town doing what he loved. After his father died he had to come back home to care for his mom, it was he love for her that kept him determined to keep