why were the cakes and the visit to the house of hwang important?
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They were important because the cake ingredients were expensive showing respect to the house. It also was a sign that the giver had prosperity and good luck.
They are important because they represent the prosperity that Wang Lung and O-lan have. O-lan makes the moon cakes similar to the ones that the House of Hwang has. Through the visit and giving of the moon-cakes, Wang Lung is no longer treated as someone who is below the people of the House of Hwang-instead Wang Lung is treated with respect and as an equal.