Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Behold the Dreamers can help.

Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jende notices that whenever Clark is in the car these days, he’s shouting at someone on the phone. Leah tells Jende that Lehman Brothers is a mess, and Clark is going crazy. It saddens Jende to know that Leah is clinging to a job that makes her miserable because she’s five years away from receiving Social Security. So, she can’t quit, despite her rising blood pressure, hair loss, and only getting three hours of sleep each night. He also doesn’t tell Leah that Clark sometimes sleeps in his office or goes to the Chelsea Hotel on some evenings for hour-long appointments.
Clark’s shouting is a sign of his stress over trying to save Lehman Brothers from its inevitable collapse. Many people, including Leah, depend on Clark to maintain their jobs and standards of living. Clark is likely aware of this responsibility, which is why he spends so much time at work and only finds relief with prostitutes who demands from him the only thing he gives easily: money.
Themes
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
On the last Thursday of August, Jende holds the car door open for Clark outside of the Chelsea Hotel. Clark directs Jende to go to Hudson River Park and to take him near the piers. Clark calls Jende ten minutes later to ask him to come join him. Clark is sitting at a bench with his eyes closed. Together, they watch the sun set over the Hudson River. Jende thinks about how both Clark and Vince love sunsets and wonders if Vince knows this about his father.
Clark’s extension of the offer is a sign of Clark’s desire for companionship or, at the very least, a form of it that doesn’t require more demands on his time and energy. The similarity that Jende perceives between Clark and Vince is also an expression of his wish that the father and son can see how much they have in common.
Themes
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Clark tells Jende about Vince’s plans to move to India and Jende pretends that he didn’t know about them. Jende tells Clark that he hopes that he’s not “too angry” with Vince. Clark says that Cindy thinks that he isn’t angry enough, as though Clark is giving up on Vince. Truthfully, Clark admires his eldest son. All Clark ever wanted at his age was the life that he currently has. Clark understands Vince’s reservations about the system, but he insists that the problem doesn’t lie within the system but within each individual person.
Cindy expects Clark to be angry, as this would be a demonstration of the concern that she believes he should feel for Vince. What Cindy perceives as indifference is a mixture of concern and admiration for Vince for having the courage to pursue more than money. However, Vince’s grievances have less to do with society than with the corruption within individuals.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Jende tells Clark that he thinks that Vince will probably return from India after several months and then “run back to law school.” Jende figures that if India is anything like Cameroon, with its heat and mosquitoes, he’ll be picking him up at the airport before New Year’s. The men laugh. Jende then says that, even if Vince stays, he’ll be happy; for, a man can find a home anywhere. Clark remembers that, while thinking about his son, he wrote a poem about home. Jende is surprised to hear that Clark writes poems. He says that he once wrote one for Cindy, but she didn’t like it much, so he writes only for himself now. Clark recites his poem, “Home,” which is about the permanence of home.
Jende figures that Vince is too delicate and has lived too sheltered a life to cope with the discomforts in less-advantaged countries. However, if he remains, it’ll be because he’s acquired a sense of belonging that will make India feel like home. Clark’s poem is a point that he shares in common with everyone in his family: they all have a desire to feel as though they belong. Clark’s inability to share his poetry with Cindy, however, indicates that she isn’t interested in every aspect of who Clark is, which may foster his sense of alienation.
Themes
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Get the entire Behold the Dreamers LitChart as a printable PDF.
Behold the Dreamers PDF