From the opening scene, Gurney points out that the people who inhabit these dining rooms are part of a culture on the wane. The client and the agent both admire the dining room, but the client realizes that he will never use it. In the second scene, Sally and Arthur both long for their mother’s dining-room set as a symbol of their cherished past. The third scene shows a father trying to raise his children to be the sort of people who eat in dining rooms, and the fourth shows a woman who has returned to school against her husband’s wishes. She has dared to use his mother’s dining-room table to type on. For these characters and for many others, the dining room itself represents the pull of tradition and family against the new demands of modern life.