Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Jende Jonga Character Analysis

A Cameroonian immigrant to the United States who settles in Harlem, New York while awaiting the approval of his application for asylum. This makes Jende an undocumented immigrant. Jende was born in 1970 and comes from the coastal town of Limbe, where most of his relatives still reside. His father, Pa Jonga, is a farmer and his mother, Ma Jonga, is a trader and pig breeder. He has four brothers, including Tanga, who has five children, and his middle brother, Moto. In his hometown, Jende worked as a farmer, and then as a street cleaner for the Limbe Urban Council. Jende comes from a poor family that lived in a two-room caraboat house. His poverty is partly the reason why the father of his wife, Neni, didn’t initially approve of their marriage. Jende attended CBC Main School for primary school and ended his secondary school education after he first impregnated Neni in 1990. Their daughter died of yellow fever at one-month old. Neni’s father had Jende sent to prison for impregnating his daughter, where Jende spent four months before his child was born. Jende moves to the United States in the summer of 2004 and first lives with his cousin, Winston, for one month. He works in Manhattan as a dishwasher, then as a livery cab driver in the Bronx. While living in the Bronx, he shared a two-bedroom basement apartment with six other men. After saving enough money, Jende sends for Neni and their son, Liomi and moves with them into a Harlem apartment. He and Neni marry in May 2006. Through Winston, he secures a job making thirty-five thousand dollars per year as the personal driver for the Edwards family. Jende is an honest, trusting, and obedient employee. He is also discreet and never divulges what he hears during his employer Clark Edwards’s phone conversations. Jende is also loyal to his family in Cameroon, offering them financial assistance, while still remaining careful to save. With his family in Harlem, he is usually loving, but occasionally harsh, domineering, and inclined to take out his frustrations related to his immigration status and his work on his family.

Jende Jonga Quotes in Behold the Dreamers

The Behold the Dreamers quotes below are all either spoken by Jende Jonga or refer to Jende Jonga. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Behold the Dreamers published in 2016.
Chapter 11 Quotes

“Listen to me,” Bubakar said, somewhat impatiently. “As far as Immigration is concerned, there are many things that are illegal and many that are gray, and by ‘gray’ I mean the things that are illegal but which the government doesn’t want to spend time worrying about. You understand me, abi? My advice to someone like you is to always stay close to the gray area and keep yourself and your family safe. Stay away from any place where you can run into police—that’s the advice I give to you and to all young black men in this country. The police is for the protection of white people, my brother. Maybe black women and black children sometimes, but not black men. Never black men. Black men and police are palm oil and water. You understand me, eh?”

Related Characters: Bubakar (speaker), Jende Jonga
Page Number: 73-74
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

She was noticing something for the first time […] On both sides of the street […] she saw people walking with their kind: a white man holding hands with a white woman; a black teenager giggling with other black (or Latino) teenagers; a white mother pushing a stroller alongside another white mother; a black woman chatting with a black woman […] Even in New York City […] men and women, young and old, rich and poor, preferred their kind when it came to those they kept closest. And why shouldn't they? It was far easier to do so than to spend one’s limited energy trying to blend into a world one was never meant to be a part of […] She had her world in Harlem and never again would she try to wriggle her way into a world in midtown, not even for just an hour.

Related Characters: Jende Jonga, Neni Jonga, Winston Avera
Page Number: 94-95
Explanation and Analysis:

In his first days in America, it was here he came every night to take in the city. It was here he often sat to call her when he got so lonely and homesick that the only balm that worked was the sound of her voice. During those calls, he would ask her how Liomi was doing, what she was wearing, what her plans for the weekend were, and she would tell him everything, leaving him even more wistful for the beauty of her smile, the hearth in his mother’s kitchen, the light breeze at Down Beach, the tightness of Liomi's hug, the coarse jokes and laughter of his friends as they drank Guinness at a drinking spot; leaving him craving everything he wished he hadn’t left behind. During those times, he told her, he often wondered if leaving home in search of something as fleeting as fortune was ever worthwhile.

Related Characters: Jende Jonga, Neni Jonga, Liomi Jonga
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

“Because right now we're pulling these tricks and the SEC's playing dumb, but you know as well as I do that if this shit falls apart and the chaos starts spreading they're going to throw us out for the public to crucify, by claiming they didn’t know a damn thing, and we all know it's a lie.”

Related Characters: Clark Edwards (speaker), Jende Jonga, Tom
Related Symbols: The Doublers
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

“At his age, all I wanted was the life that I have right now. This exact life, this was what I wanted.”

“It is a good life, sir. A very good life.”

“Sometimes. But I can understand why Vince doesn’t want it. Because these days I don’t want it, either. All this shit going on at Lehman, all this stuff we would never have done twenty years ago because we stood for something more, and now really dirty shit is becoming the norm. All over the Street. But try to show good sense, talk of consequences, have a far-long-term outlook, and they look at you as if you've lost your marbles […]”

“And I know Vince has got a point, but the problem is not some system. It is us. Each of us. We've got to fix ourselves before we can fix a whole damn country […]”

Related Characters: Jende Jonga (speaker), Clark Edwards (speaker), Vince Edwards
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

By all accounts, no one in Limbe had ever given money to a money doubler and gotten the money doubled […] And yet people continued to give to them, falling into the trap of crafty young men who walked up to them on the street and visited them in their homes, promising quick and high returns on their money through incomprehensible means. One woman at Sapa Road had been so enraptured by the two charming men in suits who visited her at home that she’d given them all of her life's savings for double the money in three months’ time. Her hope, the story around Limbe went, was that she would use the doubled money to buy a ticket for her only son to move to America. But the doublers did not return on the appointed day. Or the day after. Or the month after. Destroyed, the woman had eaten rat poison and died, leaving the son to bury her.

Related Characters: Jende Jonga, Bosco
Related Symbols: The Doublers
Page Number: 169-170
Explanation and Analysis:

Many would be convinced that the plague that had descended on the homes of former Lehman employees was only a few blocks from theirs. Restaurateurs, artists, private tutors, magazine publishers, foundation directors, limousine drivers, nannies, housekeepers, employment agencies, virtually everyone who stood along the path where money flowed to and from the Street fretted and panicked that day. For some, the fears were justified: Their bread and wine would indeed disappear, along with the billions of dollars that vanished the day Lehman died.

Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

“Everything’s going to be all right, Cindy […] Sean has to constantly remind me, too. He says I have to stop checking our portfolios twenty times a day, but I can't help it. I woke up every morning in Florence panicking about losing everything [....]”

Cindy did not immediately respond; she seemed lost in a maze of a hundred thoughts. “I wish I had Sean's calmness,” she finally said. “Nothing ever seems to unravel him.”

“Yeah, but you won’t believe what he suggested to me yesterday,” Cheri said […]

“He thinks maybe we should get rid of Rosa for a few months, to save” […]

“Yeah, that's exactly what we need now, right?” Cindy said. “To be cooking and cleaning and doing laundry while we're losing money and sleep […]”

“But it’s scary how bad this could get,” Cheri said, her tone turning serious as their laughter ebbed. “When people start talking about flying coach and selling vacation homes…”

Related Characters: Cindy Edwards (speaker), Cheri (speaker), Jende Jonga
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

“What are you going to do now?” he asked her.

“Something really great," she said, sounding more upbeat than she had in the morning. “I've got over twenty years of experience, honey. I'm not worried. I'm going to take a month and relax before I start a job search.”

“You should do that.”

“I will, maybe go see my sister in Florida. That's the good thing about a life with no husband or children—no one to hold me back, make me feel as if I can't go where I want, whenever I want, do what I want. I'm going to enjoy myself in Sarasota, and when I come back, I'll dust off the old résumé.”

“You will get a new job very fast when you return,” Jende said. “Mr. Edwards will surely tell everyone that you were a good secretary.”

Related Characters: Jende Jonga (speaker), Leah (speaker), Clark Edwards
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

More jobs would be lost […] The Dow would drop in titanic percentages. It would rise and fall and rise and fall, over and over, like a demonic wave. 401(k)s would be cut in half, disappear as if stolen by maleficent aliens. Retirements would have to be postponed […] College education funds would be withdrawn; many hands would never know the feel of a desired diploma. Dream homes would not be bought. Dream wedding plans would be reconsidered. Dream vacations would not be taken […] In many different ways it would be […] a calamity like the one that had befallen the Egyptians in the Old Testament. The only difference between the Egyptians then and the Americans now, Jende reasoned, was that the Egyptians […] had chosen riches over righteousness, rapaciousness over justice. The Americans had done no such thing. And yet, all through the land, willows would weep for the end of many dreams.

Related Characters: Jende Jonga, Leah
Related Symbols: The Doublers
Page Number: 184-185
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 49 Quotes

“In America today, having documents is not enough. Look at how many people with papers are struggling. Look at how even some Americans are suffering. They were born in this country. They have American passports, and yet they are sleeping on the street, going to bed hungry, losing their jobs and houses every day in this…this economic crisis.”

Related Characters: Jende Jonga (speaker), Neni Jonga
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:

“You should have been with me last week when I saw this man who used to drive another executive at Lehman Brothers. We used to sit together outside the building sometimes; he was a fresh round man. I saw him downtown: The man looked like he had his last good meal a year ago. He has not been able to find another job. He says too many people want to be chauffeurs now […] Everyone is losing jobs everywhere and looking for new jobs, anything to pay bills. So you tell me—if he, an American, a white man with papers, cannot get a new chauffeur job then what about me? They say the country will get better, but you know what? I don’t know if I can stay here until that happens. I don’t know if I can continue suffering like this just because I want to live in America.”

Related Characters: Jende Jonga (speaker), Neni Jonga
Page Number: 310
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 50 Quotes

Later, as she stood in front of the mirror staring at her face before applying her exfoliating mask, she promised herself she would fight Jende till the end. She had to. It wasn’t only that she loved New York City […] It wasn’t just because she was hopeful that she would one day become a pharmacist […] It was hardly only about […] things she could never find in her hometown, things like horse-drawn carriages on city streets, and gigantic lighted Christmas trees in squares and plazas, and pretty parks where musicians played for free beside polychromatic foliage […] It was mostly for what her children would be deprived of […] It was for the boundless opportunities they would be denied […] She was going to fight for her children, and for herself, because no one journeyed far away from home to return without a fortune amassed or dream achieved.

Related Characters: Jende Jonga, Neni Jonga, Liomi Jonga, Betty
Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 52 Quotes

When he had told her of his plan to return home, she had wondered why he was coming back when others were running out of Limbe, when many in his age group were fleeing to Bahrain and Qatar, or trekking and taking a succession of crowded buses to get from Cameroon to Libya so they could cross to Italy on leaky boats and arrive there with dreams of a happier life if the Mediterranean didn’t swallow them alive.

Related Characters: Jende Jonga, Winston Avera, Ma Jonga
Page Number: 323-324
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 62 Quotes

“One can never trust any government—I don’t trust the American government and I definitely don't trust the Cameroon government.”

“No, but it's our government and it's our country. We love it, we hate it, it's still our country. How man go do?”

“It's our country,” Winston agreed. “We can never disown it.”

Related Characters: Jende Jonga (speaker), Winston Avera (speaker)
Page Number: 380
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Behold the Dreamers LitChart as a printable PDF.
Behold the Dreamers PDF

Jende Jonga Character Timeline in Behold the Dreamers

The timeline below shows where the character Jende Jonga appears in Behold the Dreamers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Jende Jonga walks into the halls of Lehman Brothers for his job interview with Clark Edwards.... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Jende’s mouth falls open at the sight of the Clark’s plush furnishings and the views of... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Jende tells Clark that he’s been in the country since 2004. During the interview, Jende feels... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...longer “a jobless, unwed mother, sitting in her father’s house in Limbe […] waiting for Jende to rescue her.” Jende worked three jobs to save the money that Neni needed for... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...after Neni arrived in America, in May 2006, she became “a respectable woman” and married Jende. For Neni, Limbe now feels like “some faraway town,” a place that she loved less... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
While driving along White Plains Road, a call comes in from Clark Edwards’s secretary, notifying Jende that he got the chauffeur job at a salary of thirty-five thousand per year. After... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Jende’s been fighting to become documented for three years. He was in the country for only... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Jende was determined to escape the “future of nothingness” in Cameroon. He would succeed in America... (full context)
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Jende tells Bubakar his story so that the lawyer can use elements from his life to... (full context)
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...The comment angers Winston and Bubakar, knowing that he went too far, quickly makes peace. Jende continues with his story, saying that his and Neni’s daughter died in infancy. Neni’s father... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Neni stays up late, waiting for Jende to come home so that she can hear about his first day at work. When... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
When Neni asks what Cindy looks like, Jende says that she’s “good-looking” and looks the way a rich man’s wife should. She’s “one... (full context)
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Neni asks Jende what he did after dropping Mighty off at school. He says that he returned to... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Neni thinks that this is a lot to do in one day, but Jende insists that, for the kind of money he’s being paid, this is to be expected.... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Jende finishes his dinner and asks Neni if Liomi is sleeping in their bed or his... (full context)
Chapter 5
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Cindy is always cordial, albeit remote, around Jende. Still, he stiffens up every time she gets in the car with him. He’s thankful... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Cindy calls Clark back and asks if he’s going to Mighty’s piano recital. Jende notices that her voice sounds “drenched in agony.” He wishes that someone would call her... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Jende is driving Clark back from Washington, D.C. They are cruising across the Delaware Memorial Bridge... (full context)
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Clark describes this as “fascinating,” while reopening his laptop. Jende goes on to say that Limbe “is the best town in Africa,” and that Vince... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Clark asks Jende why he’s in America if Limbe is so beautiful. Jende says that everyone wants to... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
...explains in ten seconds why someone shouldn’t be fired for something. He then asks why Jende couldn’t achieve respectability in his own country. Jende’s voice drops “ten decibels lower” as he... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Clark places other calls, including one to Paris during which Jende overhears him speaking “mediocre French,” which he praises as “very good French” at the end... (full context)
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...He throws his head back after hanging up and closes his eyes. He then asks  Jende if he had a job back home. Jende says that he worked for Limbe Urban... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Clark doesn’t understand. Poor people marry all the time. Jende explains that, in Cameroon, “not everyone can marry the person that they want.” Neni’s father,... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Clark says that he hopes Neni’s “worth it.” Jende insists that he has “the best wife in the whole world.” Clark then asks if... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
While flipping through some loose papers from a folder, Clark asks how Jende could afford to buy a plane ticket to the U.S. if he was so poor.... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Clark hangs up the phone and sighs deeply, muttering about how “unbelievable” his son is. Jende longs to tell him that he’s sorry about Vince and that “nothing could be harder... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Around noon, Leah calls Jende, saying that he’ll need to drive back to the Lehman Brothers office tower to drop... (full context)
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Leah asks how Jende likes working for Clark. He says he likes it very much and that Mr. Edwards... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
While eating at Red Lobster in Times Square with Neni and Liomi, Jende gets a text message from his brother. When Jende calls back, he learns that Pa... (full context)
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Jende runs to the ATM, while Neni has a waiter wrap up the sautéed shrimp that... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
On a Tuesday in April 2008, Bubakar calls while Jende’s parked on a street corner, “reading Clark’s discarded Wall Street Journal.” When he answers, Bubakar... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Bubakar reminds Jende of how far they’ve come in his case and that it was Bubakar who helped... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
That night, after Jende tells Neni the news, he watches her cry “the first tears of sadness she’d ever... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Neni goes on as though everything is fine. Jende assures her that they’ll take things as they come, but this leaves her uneasy. She... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
...gives Liomi crackers and juice and then proceeds to remind him of why she and Jende send him to school. She asks who Billy is. When Liomi identifies him as his... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...Liomi makes Neni feel hopeful, as though her family may still have a chance. When Jende returns home from work at six o’clock that evening, she serves him dinner and leaves... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
One evening, while waiting for Cindy, Jende gets a call from Bubakar. It’s been a week since they last spoke. Bubakar explains... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Jende feels better, as though released from under a great weight. Bubakar says that his situation... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Bubakar encourages Jende not to give up hope. If Obama or Hillary becomes president, he says, “they’ll give... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Though Jende loves New York, he tells himself that he’ll go elsewhere after he gets his papers.... (full context)
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
On the third Thursday in May, while driving Cindy across Fifty-seventh Street, Jende’s cell phone rings and he apologizes, believing that he turned it off. She encourages him... (full context)
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Cindy assures Jende that something will “work out one way or another.” Jende assures her that he’ll try... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...and spend four times more than a beverage would cost in a supermarket. She and Jende arrive an hour late, thanks to Neni’s multiple wardrobe changes. She wanted to look “equally... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
A minute after reentering the bar, Neni doesn’t see Jende or Winston and ends up standing by herself. Then, she sees Jende standing by the... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...two women hardly pause to say goodbye. Neni pushes through the crowd to look for Jende. When she finds him, she tells him that she wants to leave. He asks for... (full context)
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Jende suggests that he and Neni go sit at Columbus Circle. On the way there, she... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
At Columbus Circle, Jende and Neni sit near the statue of Christopher Columbus, “surrounded by skateboarders and young lovers... (full context)
Chapter 15
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Jende drives Clark to a golf course in Westchester one afternoon. Clark has taken up his... (full context)
Chapter 16
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Jende has been waiting for Vince to come out of his apartment for fifteen minutes. He... (full context)
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Jende assures Vince that his parents are “good people” and that Clark works very hard for... (full context)
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Jende tells Vince that he should finish school, become a lawyer, and then go to India... (full context)
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Vince tells Jende that his family’s never been close and that he’s always viewed his father as “an... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
That summer, New York is unbearably hot. Clark tells Jende that he can take a paid vacation in the first two weeks of August. The... (full context)
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Clark says that Cindy will need a housekeeper for four weeks and that Jende should ask Neni if she would like to take on the job for extra money.... (full context)
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
...Neni’s first day on the housekeeping job, she descends the steps into the subway with Jende to begin the first leg of her journey to the Hamptons. He tells her to... (full context)
Chapter 18
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...like the approval of others.” Five days after she arrives at the house, she calls Jende to tell him that Mrs. Edwards seems “very sick.” She says that Cindy went into... (full context)
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Jende asks Neni if she looks dead. Neni says that Cindy was still breathing. She asks... (full context)
Chapter 20
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
One evening, while Jende and Liomi are having dinner at a restaurant near the 116th Street subway station, Liomi... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Back at the apartment, Jende calls Neni and scolds her for exposing Liomi to their pain. Neni says that she... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
The next evening, Jende and Liomi go to a classical music concert in St. Nicholas Park and listen to... (full context)
Chapter 21
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
...the pillows. He tells her, “Today’s the day.” When she registers confusion, he realizes that Jende hasn’t told her about Vince’s plans to leave law school. He decides not to say... (full context)
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Neni calls Jende later that evening to see if he knows what’s going on and he advises Neni... (full context)
Chapter 23
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Jende notices that whenever Clark is in the car these days, he’s shouting at someone on... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
On the last Thursday of August, Jende holds the car door open for Clark outside of the Chelsea Hotel. Clark directs Jende... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Clark tells Jende about Vince’s plans to move to India and Jende pretends that he didn’t know about... (full context)
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Jende tells Clark that he thinks that Vince will probably return from India after several months... (full context)
Chapter 24
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
...say anything to Mr. Edwards about the pills—only about the wine. Then, she remembers that Jende will be furious if she brings this up. She tells Anna, but Anna insists that... (full context)
Chapter 25
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
At three o’clock, two hours before Vince is due to arrive, Jende’s phone rings. Vince asks if it would be all right to bring Mighty along. Neni... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...the same bedroom and goes to Liomi’s bedroom to see his toys, while Vince and Jende drink Malta, eat peanuts, and talk about America. (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
After Neni sets the table, Jende announces that it’s time to eat. He explains that, in Cameroon, everyone takes their food... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...over. Once, when Liomi came down with a case of pneumonia just a month after Jende started working for them, Cindy sent Jende home one evening with a basket full of... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Mighty keeps trying to convince Vince to let him stay longer and asks if Jende can take him home later. Neni tells Mighty that maybe she’ll go back to the... (full context)
Chapter 26
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Two weeks before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Jende has a dream. He’s back in Limbe, strolling the market with his friend Bosco, who,... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
By the time Jende wakes up on the morning of Lehman Brothers’ collapse, he’s already forgotten about Bosco and... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
One Monday morning, while Jende is folding clean clothes, Neni calls out to him in a voice that makes him... (full context)
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The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Jende calls Clark, who doesn’t answer his phone. He then dials Cindy’s. When she answers, she... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
The next time Jende sees Clark, it seems that the latter has aged ten years in seven days. While... (full context)
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One day, while Jende is driving Cindy and her friend Cheri to visit Cheri’s mother in Stamford, Cindy talks... (full context)
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Jende thinks about the previous night, when, after work, Clark called his friend Frank to see... (full context)
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The next day, while dropping off and picking up the Edwardses, Jende thinks about how strange it is that Americans are talking about an “economic crisis,” a... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Jende drives Clark to the Chelsea Hotel at least a dozen times in the five weeks... (full context)
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The bond between Jende and Clark is “firmly established” by this secret. This is why Jende says no more... (full context)
Chapter 29
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One evening early in November, three days after Barack Obama is elected president, Cindy asks Jende to come upstairs to the Edwardses’ apartment so that she can speak to him. He... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Jende returns home early that evening and finds Winston eating kwacoco and banga soup at his... (full context)
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Jende tells Neni and Winston about his meeting with Cindy. They insist that Jende tell Cindy... (full context)
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Jende insists that he understands that he’s merely Cindy’s chauffeur, but that doesn’t mean that he... (full context)
Chapter 31
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On the morning of his thirty-eighth birthday, Jende holds the car door open for Clark, who offers a perfunctory “happy birthday.” Once they... (full context)
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Jende thanks Clark in exchange, saying that he was afraid of losing his job if he... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Twice a day, Jende writes down what Clark does, including times, locations, and names. He also adds descriptions of... (full context)
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In moments in which Jende fears that Cindy may have tried to contact Clark while he’s at the hotel, Jende... (full context)
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Jende wants very much for Cindy to have fun and she seems to have it when... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...the story isn’t dismissed. It’s talked about in barbershops and on playground benches. Leah calls Jende and tells him that an escort claims that she has lots of clients from Barclays... (full context)
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Jende cuts his conversation with Leah short to go pick up Mighty. He hangs up, thinking... (full context)
Chapter 34
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When Jende hears Mighty sniffling in the backseat, he thinks that the boy just has a cold.... (full context)
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Mighty asks if he can visit the Jongas. Jende says that, as glad as he and Neni would be to have him as a... (full context)
Chapter 35
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When Jende and Neni’s baby girl is born in Harlem Hospital on December 10th, they believe that... (full context)
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Jende calls Clark to share the news, and Clark tells Jende that he can take off... (full context)
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When Jende calls Bubakar about the letter, the lawyer assures him that this is typical and they’ll... (full context)
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Jende asks Winston if his former colleague can take him on as a client, but the... (full context)
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Jende talks to Neni about his asylum case. They agree to stick with Bubakar and encourage... (full context)
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The Sunday before Christmas, while Jende is working, Neni takes the children to church. She takes the subway to Greenwich Village... (full context)
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Later that night, Neni tells Jende about how happy everyone was to welcome her, Liomi, and Timba to the church. Jende... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...get to know her better. Neni schedules a meeting for the next day and tells Jende nothing about it. In private, Natasha seems more subdued than the fiery preacher who stood... (full context)
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When Jende comes home from work around midnight, Neni quickly serves him dinner and tells him about... (full context)
Chapter 37
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On Christmas morning, the Jongas eat fried ripe plantains and beans but they don’t exchange gifts—Jende doesn’t want Liomi to conflate exchanging gifts with love. In the afternoon, they eat rice... (full context)
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Five days after Christmas, Jende returns to work, “only to find that there [isn’t] much to do.” Anna tells him... (full context)
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Jende greets Mighty and asks about his Christmas, which Mighty says he doesn’t want to talk... (full context)
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...When the boy leaves the car to meet Stacy and go to his piano lesson, Jende calls Winston, who assures Jende not to worry. Jende is sure that Cindy was talking... (full context)
Chapter 38
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After receiving a call from Clark, asking him to come down to his office, Jende parks the car in the garage and pulls his briefcase from out beneath his seat.... (full context)
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Jende enters Clark’s office and sees Clark sitting at his desk, writing on a legal pad.... (full context)
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Clark mentions that “it’s a horrible time” for this to happen due to Jende’s new baby. Jende looks up and angrily demands to know why he’s being fired, but... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...ego and viewing oneself “as a vital piece of Divine Oneness.” Neni wants to tell Jende about the sermon when she returns home, but she can’t because she’s not sure if... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Mr. Jones tells Jende that he has no shifts for him because too many people are lining up to... (full context)
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Neni begs Jende to let her go back to work. She knows that she could call her agency... (full context)
Chapter 41
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...dress that Neni wore in the Hamptons. Cindy thanks her and tells Neni to tell Jende that she says hello. Neni doesn’t move, prompting Cindy to ask if there’s something else... (full context)
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...Cindy if one of her friends might need a chauffeur. Cindy scoffs and says that Jende should go out and get a job like everyone else. When Neni explains that this... (full context)
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...do such a thing after all that she and Clark have done for her and Jende. Cindy writes a check, but Neni demands cash. Cindy leaves and returns minutes later with... (full context)
Chapter 42
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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... (full context)
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Jende insists that he doesn’t like what Clark did, but that Mr. Edwards had a right... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...office, prepared to say goodbye. She asks Neni if there are any new developments with Jende’s immigration case. Neni says that they’re still waiting and hoping, but her friend, Betty, offers... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...Mighty to learn the piano. He describes his mother as “imperfect” but “beautiful,” like everyone. Jende sits in the last pew and closes his eyes to pray for Cindy’s soul. (full context)
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Jende tells Neni later about the funeral and talks about feeling sorry for Mighty. Neni suggests... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...letter from Phi Theta Kappa, inviting her to become a member. She’s reluctant to tell Jende because it’ll cost her one hundred dollars to join, but he’s happy for her and... (full context)
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When Jende comes home from work that night, Neni tells him nothing about her conversation with Dean... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...drink made from boiled masepo and fever grass, along with the medication the pharmacist prescribed. Jende’s brother, Moto, calls him at five in the morning, an hour after Pa Ikola Jonga... (full context)
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Pa Jonga is buried two weeks later, and Jende sends money for the funeral. Jende watches the ceremony on a video that he asked... (full context)
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One of Jende’s co-workers refers him to a cash-only doctor in Jamaica, Queens, who charges him sixty dollars... (full context)
Chapter 49
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When Jende walks out of the doctor’s office, he decides that it’s time to go back home.... (full context)
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Neni suggests that they can move to Phoenix, but Jende says that the department store where Arkamo was working closed down, and he found out... (full context)
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Jende tells Neni that much of what happened to get them to America happened because of... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...think about was leaving her father’s house and moving to America. On the day that Jende told her that Winston was buying him a ticket to New York so that he... (full context)
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...husband and not say no to him. Two days later, Betty tells Neni to tell Jende that she’s not going. She says that Neni will regret returning and asks her about... (full context)
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...face in the mirror and applies an exfoliating mask. She promises herself that she’ll “fight” Jende to stay in New York. She’ll fight for the “boundless opportunities” that she and her... (full context)
Chapter 51
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While Jende brushes his teeth, Neni mentions Betty’s cousin, who can help with get them papers if... (full context)
Chapter 52
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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... (full context)
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When Jende reports this to Winston, he tells Jende that it makes no sense to remain in... (full context)
Chapter 54
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Jende and Neni spend much of their time arguing. She calls him selfish, and he insists... (full context)
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...a corner and his father standing over her, his hand raised and about to descend.” Jende barks at him to go back in the bedroom. Liomi bursts into tears and runs... (full context)
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Jende returns fourteen hours later with a bouquet of red roses and a new video game... (full context)
Chapter 56
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On Friday afternoon, Jende finds out that the judge has granted his request for voluntary departure. Bubakar tells him... (full context)
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Jende actually gives Neni more money than he intended because doing so was the only thing... (full context)
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On a Sunday evening, Jende takes Neni to dinner at Red Lobster, while Winston and Maami watch their children, and... (full context)
Chapter 57
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...working in the Hamptons for Cindy, would make the “millionaires many times over” in Limbe. Jende would become one of the richest men in New Town, their section of Limbe. They... (full context)
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Winston asks that Jende not become “an American wonder” when he goes back—one of those Cameroonians who goes to... (full context)
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Later that evening, Jende shares with Neni his idea about wholesaling food. She contemptuously asks him what he needs... (full context)
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Jende calls Moto and asks him to search for men who’ll till his land in Bimbia,... (full context)
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When Neni tells Fatou about all that Jende has arranged, Fatou wonders why her husband, Ousmane, can’t do the same for her. She... (full context)
Chapter 58
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At work, Jende’s friends ask him repeatedly if he’s sure that he won’t miss America. He admits that... (full context)
Chapter 59
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 60
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Jende sends Clark Edwards an email, announcing his return home. Clark returns the message a couple... (full context)
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...unions. His parents are also moving from California to be closer to them. Clark tells Jende that family is everything, which he’s sure Jende already understands. He also says that Vince... (full context)
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Jende says that he stopped by, not only to say goodbye, but to thank Clark for... (full context)
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Out of curiosity, Clark asks why the Jongas are returning home. Jende says that his asylum application wasn’t approved. Clark wishes that Jende had told him about... (full context)
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...goes over to his briefcase and returns with a white envelope, which he hands to Jende. Jende thanks him and then asks if Clark has heard from Leah. Clark says that... (full context)
Chapter 62
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...the airport, Neni stares out the window, seeing New York and America pass her by. Jende forces himself to feel nothing. He sits in the front seat with the seed money... (full context)
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...the highway that says “Welcome to Limbe, The Town of Friendship.” Liomi is waking up. Jende turns from the front seat to look at his son and asks him to guess... (full context)