Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 52 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bubakar agrees to petition the immigration judge to close the deportation case in exchange for Jende leaving on his own within ninety days—that is “voluntary departure.” Jende wonders if he can return to America, and Bubakar says it’s up to the consulate if they want to give him another visa. In regard to his wife and children, Timba is an American; Neni would be fine because no one would hold it against her that she arrived on a student visa and then had a baby. Liomi, however, would be regarded as an illegal, like Jende. Bubakar encourages Jende to persevere, as he did, to try to become an American.
As frustrated as Jende is with America, he still retains the hope of one day returning, which speaks to his love for the country that disappointed him. In explaining Liomi’s situation, Bubakar reveals the cruelty of the immigration system, which treats undocumented children as criminals just like undocumented adults. Bubakar’s encouragement to Jende to “persevere,” using his own story as an example, is probably just a ruse to get more money out of Jende.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
When Jende reports this to Winston, he tells Jende that it makes no sense to remain in America if things aren’t working out. Even if he got papers, without a good education, and being a black African immigrant male, it’ll still be hard for him to make a living. Jende suggests that he could, perhaps, try to stay until the recession is over. Winston is unsure. He notes that, even people like him who went to law school, can’t expect a good life in America anymore. They joke that, soon, Americans may start running across the border to Mexico instead of the other way around. When Jende tells his mother about his plans to return, Ma Jonga wonders why he would come back to Limbe when so many his age were trying to leave, fleeing toward dreams of a happier life across the Mediterranean.
Winston reveals to Jende how even getting a good education is no longer a guarantee that one will remain secure in the current economic climate. He neglects to mention how astronomical student loan debt, which increased after the recession, makes “a good life” even less attainable. Jende and Winston’s joke, along with Ma Jonga’s confusion over Jende’s wish to return to Cameroon, both reflect a hopelessness that has become a global problem. No country, it seems, offers any safe harbor, but people are still buoyed by hope.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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