Ethan is a free spirit, who doesn’t look at things the same way as other people in the small town. He absorbs new ideas eagerly, reading and gathering them from books and attempting to quote them to imrpess people, but frequently bungling his recitation (inferior Si poor memory). The more abstract the concept, the more he likes it (after reading one such statement, about how most people are meandering through life and will never find their purpose, he concludes the author “is a god!”). Unlike Lena, Ethan realizes quickly she has the power to choose her own destiny. Even when the odds tell him differently, Ethan insists she has nothing to fear from the future and that she can change it to reflect whatever she wants – family tradition be damned! When Macon asks him about his future, Ethan shrugs and says the only thing he knows is he wants to attend college—any collage, anywhere. He is a cynic, not easily insulted, and somewhat frank in his mocking assessment of the small town, its numerous churches, its relentless bigots, and its flaws. When people don’t like him, he just shrugs it off. Ethan takes insults with a grin, able to push them aside and stick to what seems logical to him. He thinks he can figure out a way out of any situation, which is why Lena’s obsession with a single potential (negative) outcome strikes him as so strange. Ethan just can’t help “being charming.” He is warm, outgoing, funny, and eager to make friends. He can placate people, compliment them, and get along well with anyone, refraining from judgment but also without his own pervasive sense of identity. Ethan is good at encouraging Lena, and upset when she shuts him out. He questions his own reactions (“Should I be insulted by that?”). He has no problem with emotional honesty. For the most part, Ethan cannot wait to get out of the Podunk town of his youth. He has zero sentimentality for it. But he enjoys bringing up quotes from movies, making pop culture references, and often falls back on his mother’s advice.

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Ethan says the worst thing in the world is to feel like you are not moving forward and your life has stagnated; he finds the small town where people get ‘stuck’ because they’re too stupid to leave to be suffocating and cannot wait to escape out into the real world. When facing pressures at home (a parent who never leaves his room, and Lena worrying about her future), Ethan just wants to cut and run – get in the car and drive away and never look back. He is playful, always trying to connect through humor and charm, direct, won’t take no for an answer, and assertive. Less fearful than just refusing to accept that there’s nothing to be done and no way to change her life for the better. He looks for the positive – even when she insults him, at least she’s talking to him! This is progress! Ethan feels a sense of obligation to his father, even if he doesn’t enjoy taking care of him (or never seeing him), which is why he has stayed home as long as he has. He’s somewhat cautious of Macon, sensing that he is dangerous, and leaves the house when he senses himself unwanted. He can be a bit quarrelsome with people, pushing against them to see if they will push back.