Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 42 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After putting the children to bed, Neni counts the money. She goes to Jende, who’s watching a basketball game in the living room, and places the bag next to him on the sofa. She tells him that it’s ten thousand dollars, which Cindy gave her after telling her about the picture from the Hamptons. Jende is angry and asks Neni how she could do such a thing. Neni insists that Jende doesn’t understand Cindy. She thinks that she’s better than people like the Jongas and can do whatever she wants to them.
Jende is angry because he believes that the Edwardses were genuinely interested in helping him and his family. Neni sees the situation more realistically—the Edwardses are people who merely have the money to pay for the things they want, whether it’s service or silence. Despite Cindy’s poor background, Neni also knows that Cindy thinks she’s superior because she’s American and white.
Themes
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Jende insists that he doesn’t like what Clark did, but that Mr. Edwards had a right to do what he needed to do. Neni insists that she also had the same right. Jende says that he wants nothing to do with this “wickedness.” Neni repeats that Cindy thought she could use them because they’re African, while Jende insists that this has nothing to do with being African; Cindy was good to them. He turns off the TV and goes to the bathroom. Neni sits down, “livid and humiliated.” Jende returns and apologizes for getting angry. He says that he doesn’t like what Neni did, but he’s also shocked that she could be so strong. He says that they’ll put the money in their savings. He asks if Neni was afraid of Cindy calling the police. Neni insists that, unlike Jende, she does what she has to, without thinking too much.
Jende’s initial reaction to Neni’s acquisition of the money is outrage, which appears to mask the shame he feels that Neni was able to provide for the family when he couldn’t. He has to characterize her action as “wickedness” to feel better about her ability to accomplish something he couldn’t—that is, to bring much needed income into the household. When he finally relaxes and reveals some of his true feelings, he can find space to be proud of his wife. He realizes, too, that she has strengths that he doesn’t have, and that it may be best to work with her instead of treating her as though she’s incapable.
Themes
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon