Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Two weeks before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Jende has a dream. He’s back in Limbe, strolling the market with his friend Bosco, who, though actually a sturdily built man, appears “slender and tall.” The singing gamblers, who wear agbadas and beat djembe drums and usually position themselves near the women selling strong kanda, are no longer there. Bosco says that although he doesn’t like the singing gamblers, they aren't nearly as bad as the doublers, who once stole his school fees. His mother trusted them to double the sum so that she could also pay for Bosco’s sister’s school fees. Bosco sits down on the sidewalk and starts wailing and cursing the money doublers. People stare at the grown man crying in the market. Embarrassed, Jende runs to the beach, but there’s no water there, only a pile of garbage, “stretching to the horizon.”
The doublers are parallel figures to the Wall Street brokers who gambled with the lives of millions of Americans and misled them about the solvency of subprime loans. The dream is foreshadows the doom that will befall Lehman Brothers. Jende has the dream because the conversation that he heard between Clark and Tom still exists in his subconscious. Though he may not understand the intricacies of the threat that Lehman Brothers faces, Jende senses that something is wrong. The trash in the place of water symbolizes waste due to materialism and greed.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Related Quotes
By the time Jende wakes up on the morning of Lehman Brothers’ collapse, he’s already forgotten about Bosco and his dream about the doublers. Cindy gives Jende the day off. He uses the time to help Neni around the house. He tells her to stop working, and then informs her that she’s going to take off her upcoming spring and summer semesters to stay home with the baby after its arrival in December. Though Neni agrees to take time off from work, she resents Jende making decisions for her. In regard to Neni’s visa status, Bubakar already assured Jende that he would help to get a medical leave of absence approved with the international students’ office at her community college.
Neni resents the control that Jende is imposing over her life, though she relents when she considers that he’s merely trying make sure that she remains healthy in preparation for giving birth. Still, it’s an encroachment on her independence that Neni resents because living in the U.S. has made her more self-reliant. Many of Jende’s ideas about how Neni could be healthier are influenced by Cindy. Jende wants to believe that, even though he doesn’t have Cindy’s money, he can still be attentive to Neni’s well-being.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
One Monday morning, while Jende is folding clean clothes, Neni calls out to him in a voice that makes him think something’s going on with the baby. She points to the television, which is tuned to CNN. The news has broken that Lehman Brothers has collapsed. Neni wonders if this means that Clark no longer has a job. Considering this, Jende wonders if he still has a job. Lots of people—restaurateurs, artists, private tutors, limo drivers, nannies, and housekeepers—will see their income “vanish on the day that Lehman die[s].”
Neni’s tone is probably one of concern, even panic, due to what the collapse of Lehman Brothers could mean for the Jongas. If an institution as lofty and important as that one can fail, it portends the failure of the Jongas’ ambitions in the U.S. They, like so many others, are part of a financial food chain that relied on those at Lehman for sustenance.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Jende calls Clark, who doesn’t answer his phone. He then dials Cindy’s. When she answers, she assures Jende that he still has a job and that nothing’s changing. Clark will let him know when to come back to work. After ending the call, Jende realizes how tightly his fate is wound with Mr. Edwards’s. His work permit is set to expire in March, and he may be unable to renew it, depending on how his court case goes. Without papers, he can’t get another job. Neni encourages him not to dwell on this but to be thankful that they were spared today.
Cindy’s assurance that “nothing’s changing” reiterates what Leah previously told Jende: those at the top won’t be impacted by the consequences of their own unethical practices. This is good news for Jende, who won’t be able to get a job with anyone else, due to his illegal status.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
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