A Hope in the Unseen

by

Ron Suskind

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Hope in the Unseen can help.

Zayd Dohrn Character Analysis

Cedric’s best friend at Brown during his freshman year, Zayd is the child of two progressive activists (both of whom used to be on the FBI’s Most Wanted list), and enjoys befriending someone so different from himself. His motto of “try anything” is jarring to Cedric, who has been raised with strict behavioral rules and moral boundaries; it also causes some tension with Zayd’s mother, Bernadine, who sees her son as an unprincipled fun-seeker. Just as Cedric and Chiniqua bond over music, Zayd and Cedric bond over their shared love of rap and hip hop, and Cedric is continually impressed by Zayd’s knowledge of musical genres that most white students at Brown knew nothing about, forcing him to confront some of his preconceived ideas about white people. However, Cedric is besieged by worries about his new friend’s motives—he accuses Zayd of being friends with a black, inner-city kid in order to seem more edgy and cool. Their friendship is tumultuous throughout the year, but in the end, Zayd wins Cedric over, as Cedric begins to feel more comfortable with interracial friendships.
Get the entire A Hope in the Unseen LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Hope in the Unseen PDF

Zayd Dohrn Character Timeline in A Hope in the Unseen

The timeline below shows where the character Zayd Dohrn appears in A Hope in the Unseen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: Fierce Intimacies
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
...evening, Cedric decides to be social, wandering into the dorm room of John Frank and Zayd Dohrn, two popular white kids from his unit. He doesn’t know much about them, because... (full context)
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Cedric has been spending more time with Zayd, and this evening the two are chatting about the O.J. trial—Zayd thinks that he is... (full context)
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
One afternoon, the guys are all hanging out together in Zayd’s room, and the conversation takes a slightly homoerotic turn. They begin to offer to fill... (full context)
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Zayd is the only person brave enough to continue to try to penetrate Cedric’s armor. He... (full context)
Chapter 9: Bill Payers on Parade
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
...with other Brown parents, who seem foreign and confusing to them. Before leaving, they meet Zayd’s parents, who greet them enthusiastically and gush over what a great kid Cedric is. Barbara... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Bursting Heart
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Cedric and Zayn go to the mall outside of town, and on their way there, they talk a... (full context)
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Zayd and Cedric come to the conclusion that there are bad people of every race, and... (full context)
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
Cedric has confided in Zayd about his background, including his father’s incarceration, and while many of their classmates long to... (full context)
Chapter 11: Back Home
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
Cedric and Zayd are hanging out at The Gate, a popular eatery on campus, and Cedric notices his... (full context)
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Cedric still holds on to his feelings of frustration, though, and when Zayd’s friend joins them, Cedric remarks that he should not be seen around two white guys,... (full context)
Chapter 12: Let the Colors Run
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
Cedric has been estranged from Zayd, who had become more or less his best friend, since they had a fight in... (full context)
Chapter 13: A Place Up Ahead
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
Anger Theme Icon
Cedric decides to make peace with Zayd, calling him on the phone to talk. He has realized a lot of things about... (full context)
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
...date with Chiniqua, he feels that things are going well with Rob, and he and Zayd are getting along very well now. The musical act for Brown’s spring concert has been... (full context)