A Hope in the Unseen


Ron Suskind

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Themes and Colors
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
Academic Support Systems Theme Icon
Anger Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Hope in the Unseen, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Race, Racism, and Identity

A Hope in the Unseen is set in inner-city Washington, D.C., in the 1990s, where Cedric Jennings seeks to lift himself out of poverty and attend Brown University. The story chronicles Cedric’s successes and failures along the way, focusing on the struggles that African Americans face when they aspire to improve their social or economic status. Throughout the story, Cedric works to fit in without losing his sense of self. This proves difficult as Cedric…

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Class vs. Wealth

Even among African Americans, there are a variety of class distinctions that further complicate Cedric Jennings’s sense of self in A Hope in the Unseen. In Cedric’s community in a poor part of Washington, D.C., class is represented by extravagant displays of wealth. Once he leaves his neighborhood, however, Cedric finds that class is far more complicated than meets the eye, which invariably makes upward mobility more difficult than it may seem.


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Religion and Hope

A Hope in the Unseen charts Cedric Jennings’s gentle separation from the Christian church as he develops more confidence in himself and his abilities. While his religious faith has given him the foundation to hold on to hope through difficult times, he eventually finds that it is holding him back from achieving the future that he wants. The book illustrates that religion is both helpful and harmful, providing a source of belonging and purpose…

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Academic Support Systems

A Hope in The Unseen follows an African-American student named Cedric Jennings as he grows up in a deeply impoverished part of Washington, D.C., and eventually attends the prestigious Brown University. Cedric’s almost herculean leap from inner-city poverty to an Ivy League college is a testament not only to his intellect and ambition, but also to the systems of academic support that helped shepherd him toward success, highlighting that academic success is not just the…

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In A Hope in the Unseen, many of the characters in Cedric’s neighborhood express anger over the circumstances that keep them in poverty. Cedric’s narrative demonstrates how anger can actually be a productive and positive force, however, as long as it is channeled appropriately. Cedric’s anger fuels his motivation to succeed—he calls it “something to push against”—showing that anger can make a person more tenacious and committed to their goals.

The sense of…

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