In Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah, what is the meaning of the title of chapter 1: The Appropriate Door Fits the Frame of the Correct House?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Adeline Yen Mah wrote and translated her autobiography, Falling Leaves, which was first written in English. Each chapter title is intended to create an introduction to what will follow in that specific chapter. Chapter 1 is entitled "The Appropriate Door Fits The Frame of the Correct House" (Men Dang Hu Dui in Chinese). Chapter 1 provides an historical background to the culture and restrictions that face Chinese families. The most important aspect of this chapter is the marriage of her grandfather.

In Chinese culture, Mah has to respect the boundaries placed on women and operate within them. The chapter titles allow her to place herself in context and to appropriate meanings - from the use of translated Chinese idioms - even before the chapters start. Mah's grandfather, Ye Ye,  "Determined not to follow his brothers down the slippery path, (he) proved to be far more able than either of them."  He marries according to custom, through an arranged marriage - " Theirs was a men dang hu dui (as the appropriate door fits the frame of the correct house) marriage." In terms of culture, once a suitable marriage partner has been found, the soon-to-be wife must understand that her own family's home "is no longer your home and you are not to contact us without permission from your husband." hence, there is a direct connection with the "correct house." Mah remembers her grandparents fondly and appreciates their approach to life. 

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