The beginning of the movie shows Walt Kowalski as a loner, whose wife has recently died leaving him alone in a neighborhood which is gradually being filled heterogeneous working-class ethnic minorities. In such a scenario, the American flag hoisted in front of his house and his meticulous mowing of his lawn maintaining boundaries are suggestive of the strict boundaries Walt has in his mind. He is strictly American, who drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, drives a vintage Gran Torino and hates Land Cruiser and Hmong people. He refers to his Hmong neighbors as, "swamp rats" and "barbarians". He even doesnt mind closing the door on Thaos face when the later turns up at his door asking for jumper cables. However, his endeavor to save his lawn one night accidentally saves Thaos life and leads to a battery of interactions between the Lor family and himself.
Initially reluctant to take the relationship with his neighbor any forward after that night, Walt throws away all the gifts and flowers that the Hmong neighbors leave at his doorstep as their mark of gratitude towards the man who saved their child. On one hand, this scene shows how the Hmong culture pays respect to a person who has helped them, on the other hand, it also shows how Walt is not ready to accept gratitude for a deed that he never actually intended to do. Walt only tried to keep people out of his lawn. However, he actually saves Sue from being harassed by three colored boys in a desolate area. It is Sue who introduces Walt to Hmong culture by enlightening him with the fact that, Hmong is a race of hill people.
The party scene at Lors house actually shows Walts adaption to a new culture which till date he had no idea about. The audience along with Walt comes to know that Hmong think a persons soul resides on his head and should never be touched. They also consider it rude to make eye contact while talking and would most likely be found smiling while being