Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar The Big Dining Room Table

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

The Big Dining Room Table

You might not think a table is a big deal… until you're forced to eat your meals standing up, and in shifts. That's what Jeanne's family has to do once they get to camp. And boy does Jeanne miss that table:

In camp, and afterward, [Jeanne] would often recall with deep yearning the old round wooden table in our dining room in Ocean Park, the biggest piece of furniture we owned, large enough to seat twelve or thirteen of us at once. (1.5.2)

This table (and the huge Santa Monica house that allows the Wakatsukis to use it) becomes really important throughout the book because it represents a united family, especially at mealtime:

Dinners were always noisy, and they were always abundant with great pots of boiled rice, platters of home-grown vegetables, fish Papa caught. (1.5.2)

No wonder she's nostalgic. Not only do those dinners sound pretty massive and fun, but they're a far cry from the time Jeanne shares with her family in camp.