Cheaper By The Dozen

by Frank Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

No person with inner dignity is ever embarrassed.

This quote is spoken by Frank, the widely respected leader and father of the family. Frank has a proclivity for efficiency, hard work, and excellence. He demands these qualities in each one of his twelve kids in any situation they may find themselves in. As a father and as a person, Frank is respected by his family and peers alike due to his intelligence, loyalty, and quest for excellence.

One day, Anne complains to him that she is treated poorly by her schoolmates. Frank responds with the above quote in an attempt to teach her to value diligence and self-confidence. By having dignity within yourself, he thinks, she will be able to emit that quality into the world, and others will respect her for her self-esteem. Frank lives by this concept and requests his children to do the same.

Dad took moving pictures of us children washing dishes, so that he could figure out how we could reduce our motions and thus hurry through the task.

This quote is spoken by the narrator, one of Frank's children, and again references Frank's mandates. Not only does Frank request the family to have self-confidence in their own abilities and personalities, he expects each child to have a strong work ethic and to possess the quality to problem-solve in order to maximize efficiency. A simple task like washing the dishes becomes a life lesson in effectiveness and productivity, which Frank hopes the children carry over into their adult lives.

Well, they come cheaper by the dozen, you know.

Spoken by Frank, this quote can accurately sum up the theme of the novel. Frank's quest for efficiency and teamwork by his family is, in his mindset, superior to all other parenting theories. Twelve coherent and capable children, when aided and directed by Frank, can perform a task and solve problems much more quickly than a smaller or less unified family.

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