Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 40 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mr. Jones tells Jende that he has no shifts for him because too many people are lining up to drive livery cabs. When he returns home, Neni tells him not to worry because they have money saved. The following week, he gets a job washing dishes at two restaurants. He works mornings, afternoons, and evenings, six days per week. He leaves before Liomi wakes up and returns when his son goes to bed. He makes less than half of what he made working for Clark Edwards. Three weeks into the job, his feet begin to ache.
Jende’s inability to return to his former job as a cab driver is a consequence of the financial crisis, in which people are now willing to take any job they can to survive. Jende’s mode of survival leaves him no time for his family and offers far less income. He is becoming physically and spiritually exhausted, and his American Dream is becoming less attainable.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Neni begs Jende to let her go back to work. She knows that she could call her agency and get another home health aide job fast, but he insists that she stay home. Besides, they can’t afford daycare. On the day of his hearing, Jende wears the black suit that he wore on his first day chauffeuring for the Edwards family. He stands next to Bubakar, who “answer[s] most of the judge’s questions.” Next, “Bubakar and the judge and the attorney for ICE [take] turns saying things Jende [doesn’t] understand.” After, “The judge set[s] a date in June for Jende to reappear.” Bubakar grins as they exit the federal building, saying that they can continue doing this to buy Jende time. Jende nods, but he doesn’t feel free. It seems that he’s just “postponing the inevitable.”
Jende won’t let Neni go back to work because he wants to assure himself that he can still provide for his family, despite his job loss and his uncertain future. His wearing of the black suit is, it seems, an effort to prove to the judge, just as he eventually proved to Clark, that he is a respectable man and one who is worthy of being given a chance. Just as Jende couldn’t understand the intricacies of Clark’s talk about the financial crisis, he’s similarly confused about the intricacies of the immigration system and feels helplessly caught up in both.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon