Ethan Frome, by Edith Warton, reveals a life filled with irony, heartbreak, love, and challenging trials. When curiosity is driven into the hands of a stranger, the narrator is created. Finally someone has a chance to tell, what has never been told before. Through facts, rhetorical strategies, and meaning behind the structure, Edith Warton's narrator paints a picture of life in Starkfield and tells the tragic story of Ethan Frome.
As Warton describes the setting with the village laid "under two feet of snow," the narrator is introduced. The engineer comes to Starkfield for a visit. He feels awkward and out-of-place, certainly not only because his knowledge and experience in places such as Starkfield was extremely limited, but also because he is in an unfamiliar society filled with unfamiliar people. However, his mind is open and ready to learn. One might describe him unbiased and untainted by the village's past. Ethan Frome hides his life with secrecy and mystery, which intrigues the narrator and induces his interest to detect the unspoken story.
While the narrator is unveiling the secrets of Ethan Frome, he is also unveiling himself. With rhetorical devices, Edith Warton accomplishes to characterize the narrator. Throughout the book, the narrator inserts comments or questions. He watches, listens, and learns how Ethan lived. Often times he unravels the mystery in his head as the event is taking place. Edith Warton writes such thoughts as they come about. There is a man, for example, who is talking about the girls and how naive they are. As he jokingly teases, the narrator thinks, "(How Frome hated this cheap banter)." He is learning how the character feels about "banter." This implies how much Ethan hates disrespectful teasing, even if it was all in fun. Edith uses this technique not only to help the audience understand Ethan better, but the narrator as well. She wants the audience to see how the narrator doesn't just assume what he is told.