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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 259

The more modest and impractical the kitchen, the more likely one will be invited to stay for a meal. Show me a fancy house with a top-of-the-line gourmet kitchen, and I'll show you a family that eats out a lot.

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This quote represents image vs. reality, as well as the importance of food in many cultures. Often, Americans equate happiness with materialistic gains. The "top-of-the-line gourmet kitchen" mentioned above is expensive and flashy but often empty and void of energy. The more modest one is busy and filled with friends and family. In many cultures, love is expressed through food. An active kitchen means an active heart.

Any gift from a true friend is valuable, even if it’s a hollow walnut shell.

This quote again refers to the materialism often seen in American culture. Dumas expresses the importance of thoughtful gestures rather than monetary value. The hollow walnut shell is worth more because of the love attached to it.

During his next visit, my father secretly decided that our bathroom needed towel hooks. Using nails that were too long, my father pierced the door, creating towel hooks on one side, medieval blinding devices on the other . . .

Here, Dumas is referring to the pressure immigrants feel to assimilate to American culture. A person may not know how or why something is done, but they will do it in order to belong and be accepted. This results in a great cultural loss for many immigrants, and the inability or unwillingness to assimilate is often punished with discrimination and social isolation.

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