Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers: Chapter 59 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Betty hosts a farewell party for the Jongas in the Bronx. Everyone comes with something to eat: fried plantains, bitter leaf soup, egusi stew, poulet DG, grilled tilapia, attiéké, moi moi, soya, jollof rice, curry chicken, and pounded yams. They eat and dance in Betty’s sparsely furnished living room.
Betty’s party features all of the food that the Jongas regularly eat and will also eat back home. Their attachment to their cuisine and lack of interest in American food, aside from chain restaurants, suggests that they were never interested in full assimilation.
Themes
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
On the second Sunday of August, Natasha asks Neni if she can visit the Judson Memorial Church. Jende agrees to go, too. He wonders of Americans interpret the Bible as Cameroonians do. Natasha delivers a sermon about the mistreatment of “weary strangers in America” and decries their contemporary label: “illegal alien.” The church roars in agreement. Before ending the sermon, Natasha calls the Jongas to the front of the church and explains that they’re returning to their country because America has forgotten how to welcome people to our home. Her assistant pastor, Amos, encourages everyone to give what they can to help the Jongas create a new home in their country.
Jende’s curiosity about how Americans interpret the Bible may be his wondering if they adjust their understanding of the text to suit their prejudices or values. Natasha’s sermon criticizing the persecution of undocumented immigrants proves to him that there are some Americans who believe that there is room for him, and that the country has, in fact, forgotten its supposed principle of being willing to welcome everyone.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
After the service, congregants line up to shake hands with Neni and Jende and wish them well. A teenage girl nearly cries while telling Jende about how a friend’s father was deported to Guatemala, where he knew no one. Jende hugs her and says that, thankfully, the Jongas still have many friends and family in Cameroon.
Jende’s talk with the girl helps him understand that he isn’t being singled out. Her story gives a human context to the abstract problems that Bubakar described to him.
Themes
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon