Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the morning of his thirty-eighth birthday, Jende holds the car door open for Clark, who offers a perfunctory “happy birthday.” Once they start driving, Jende tells Clark that Cindy wants to know where he goes. Clark offers that Jende can tell her “everything,” but nothing about the Chelsea Hotel. Jende wants to tell Clark that he’ll protect him in exchange for giving Jende a job that has changed his life. He doesn’t say this, but Clark thanks him anyway for his willingness to look out for his boss.
Clark’s offer that Jende can tell Cindy “everything” is really telling him that he should tell Cindy nothing because the one thing she wants to know about—his infidelity—is the one thing that Jende can’t divulge. However, Jende’s loyalty to Clark, and his erroneous belief that Clark decides on his employment status, overrides his concern about Cindy.
Themes
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Jende thanks Clark in exchange, saying that he was afraid of losing his job if he didn’t do the right thing. Clark assures him that his job is secure. Jende asks about Cindy. Clark says that she’s fine and asks Jende why he’s asking. Before Jende can respond, Clark’s phone rings. It’s his sister, Ceci. They’ll be meeting in New York for the first time in years. Clark asks Jende to continue what he was saying about Cindy. Jende mentions that he noticed that Cindy has lost some weight and just wants to make sure that she’s fine. Clark insists that she’s doing “very well,” though the recession is hard on everyone. He then says that Jende should tell her that she’s lost weight; she’d be glad to hear that.
Clark’s assurance that Jende’s job is “secure” and his expression that Cindy is “fine” both reveal how Clark is oblivious to certain aspects of his wife’s identity. Cindy’s drug and alcohol abuse, of which he presumably remains unaware, indicates that she’s anything but fine. Her weight loss, which Clark thinks is no more than a reflection of the desire of women in her class to be thin, is the result of her anorexia and substance abuse. Clark may as well be a stranger to his wife, given how little he knows compared to the Jongas.
Themes
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon