Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 53 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Neni tells Natasha about her idea to offer Jerry the opportunity to adopt Liomi so that her son can have the best possible future. Natasha asks her if she really thinks that it’s a good idea to give her son to a man whom she barely knows. She also asks if she really believes that this would make Liomi happy. Neni says that she will tell him that it’s what’s best for him because he’ll become a citizen.
Due to Jende vetoing her plan to marry Betty’s cousin, Neni’s next idea is to offer Liomi the possibility of a better life through Jerry. Neni’s willingness to give up her son demonstrates her willingness to sacrifice as well as her belief that she can’t offer him the life that he deserves.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Natasha asks if Neni is sure that Liomi will become a citizen if Jerry and his partner adopt him, particularly considering that the couple is gay, which makes it more difficult for them to adopt. Neni throws up her hands in frustration, saying that she can’t pay a lawyer without telling her husband and that she can’t say anything to Jende these days. Natasha assures her that she can get a free consultation and that she can also talk to the church board about helping the Jongas pay for a lawyer. First, though, she wants Neni to think about whether this is the best solution. Neni insists on doing what she has to do. She wonders if she’s becoming “another person,” and Natasha asks if she likes who she’s becoming. Neni’s eyes well up with tears, but she doesn’t cry.
When explaining her reasoning to Natasha, Neni repeats the statement that she gave to Jende when he asked her how she was able to get ten thousand dollars out of Cindy. Neni has come to regard herself as someone who solves problems that others can’t or won’t solve. Her new resolve, however, brings her in conflict with her husband, which causes her pain. Neni’s ideas about how to become American are neither wise nor very feasible, but her willingness to suggest them, instead of deferring to Jende, indicates a motivation she didn’t have before.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon