Cheaper by the Dozen

By Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Published 1948
Report by Leanna
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References and Characters
      • external image gilbreth_family_big.jpg
    • This picture shows the Gilbreth family at their lighthouse cottage.



Why is Frank Gilbreth so obsessed with saving every second of time? Did he know he was going to die at a young age?
(Quote first par. last chapter.) [ He knew he had a weak heart] According to that quote, one could draw a conclusion that Frank knew he was going to die. But is that truly why he strived so hard to save every extra minute of his life?

Why is the father so focused on equality of all his children? (ex. Does the oldest child really want the same gift as the baby?)
I think that Mr. Gilbreth feels that whatever is right for one of his kids is right for the others. He is often out of town and perhaps never even takes the time to learn all the names of the Gilbreth Dozen. When giving gifts, maybe the reason for the same presents are partly so that he will not have to put up with any fight over who gets what, but perhaps the true, unmentioned reason is that he doesn't want to have to remember which children already have a bike or a watch. Most of all, I believe that Mr. Gilbreth wants his children to have the most successful life possible, and the best way to raise them, he finds, is to model them to be just like him. He doesn't press this fact, but it rather shows through. But perhaps having his children be raised to be miniature versions of himself isn't so bad. Afterall, he has a high paying job which he loves, a fancy house complete with cook and gardeners, appears to be knowledgable of anything seeming ever to be useful (and some random, useless facts too), and not to be left unmentioned, 12 children who look up to him and absolutly adore him.

Whatever happened to Martha? She seems to slide in and out of the story.
As I read this book, I was really unsure as to what became of the second oldest daughter. Often times, throughout the book, the oldest three girls are refered to as the "oldies" (exact wording and pg. of quote needed), yet they mention Anne, Ernestine and Martha, and yet Mary was the second oldest. Did the authors simply forgot to write about a very important member of their dozen? I couldn't find the answer in the book, so I looked to the internet. There I learned that the fate of the second eldest could be found in Belles on Their Toes, the sequel. As it turns out, all the Gibreth children in 1912 became sick with Diptheria, and all recovered except for 6-year-old Mary, who passed away.

How does the book compare to the movie?
Perhaps you have seen the movie Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. Although funny and witty, this movie is truly nothing like the book. In fact, the only similarity is that both families contain 12 children, which, in fact, isn't even true, seeing as Mary had died before all 12 kids were born. Personally, I think the movie butchered the book, stripped it of its innocence and (another word). In the movie, the main theme is of the family moving for the dad's new coaching job, and how the family comes together. In the book, the main theme is how the father, a motion expert, applies his ideas to his family; uses them as gineau pigs, yet it also shows through how much he loves his kids and really wants them to succeed in life. The book is placed about 100 years before the movie takes place. When people see the book they think it will be a lot like the movie. Truly, it is not!
        • external image 2003_cheaper_by_the_dozen_FAM%20PIC.jpg
      • This is a picture showing the family from the movie.
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