Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

by

Imbolo Mbue

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Liomi Jonga Character Analysis

Jende and Neni’s six-year-old son, who will soon be turning seven. He is a good student and an affable boy. His mother puts a great deal of pressure on him to be successful and well-mannered, which sometimes leaves little room for Liomi to simply be a kid. He admires his father so much that he claims that he wants to be a chauffeur when he grows up, though his mother insists that he become a doctor or a lawyer. Liomi develops a friendship with Mighty.

Liomi Jonga Quotes in Behold the Dreamers

The Behold the Dreamers quotes below are all either spoken by Liomi Jonga or refer to Liomi 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 14 Quotes

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 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:
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Liomi Jonga Character Timeline in Behold the Dreamers

The timeline below shows where the character Liomi Jonga appears in Behold the Dreamers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...jobs to save the money that Neni needed for her student visa, for their son Liomi’s visitor visa, and two airline tickets. For two years, Jende shared a two-bedroom basement apartment... (full context)
Chapter 4
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 own; he’s in his own, Neni assures him,... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
...had stayed, he “would have become nothing” and “would have remained nothing.” He feared that Liomi would grow up to be poor like him, just as Jende was poor like his... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
...opportunity. He says that anything is possible for an American. He hopes that, one day, Liomi will grow up to be “a great man” like Clark. (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... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
...renovation of his parents’ house, “a down payment on a condo in Westchester County, and Liomi’s college education.” All of it is necessary now to help them remain in America and... (full context)
Chapter 10
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
While packing Liomi’s lunch one morning, he reminds Neni of the parent-teacher conference scheduled for that day. She’s... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
At home, Neni gives Liomi crackers and juice and then proceeds to remind him of why she and Jende send... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The talk with Liomi makes Neni feel hopeful, as though her family may still have a chance. When Jende... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...him Jerry. They’ve met at this same place twice already. This time, she brings along Liomi and introduces them. Jerry mistakenly calls Liomi “Lomein” and Liomi smiles. Neni prods him to... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...“a rendezvous on a Sunday afternoon with a young professor.” Fatou asks what’ll happen if Liomi tells him. She relates an anecdote about her cousin who did just what Neni did—that... (full context)
Chapter 16
Parental Expectations vs. Personal Ambitions Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...falls asleep in the backseat. Looking through the rearview mirror at Vince’s face, Jende imagines Liomi in eighteen years. He would never permit Liomi to throw away a chance at a... (full context)
Chapter 18
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...knows will be “her only true source of joy there.” The boy reminds her of Liomi, particularly in regard to his cheerful nature and love of laughter. (full context)
Chapter 19
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
...She also has some of Mighty’s old clothes and toys, which Neni may give to Liomi. Neni is grateful. Cindy then instructs Neni to remind her of her bonus before she... (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 asks if... (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 didn’t know Liomi was listening. Jende tells Neni... (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 a blind... (full context)
Chapter 25
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...Mighty’s impressed at how everyone gets to sleep in the same bedroom and goes to Liomi’s bedroom to see his toys, while Vince and Jende drink Malta, eat peanuts, and talk... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...Mighty says that he wants to sit on the floor and eat with his hands. Liomi agrees, so Neni puts a tablecloth on the floor and puts the food on the... (full context)
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...more stories, but Vince announces that it’s time for them to leave. Mighty sulks and Liomi tries to cheer him up by saying that, maybe, he can one day go to... (full context)
Chapter 29
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
...notices, too, that Cindy looks different, as if in pain. After asking after Neni and Liomi, Cindy pushes a notebook toward Jende and asks him to write down every place to... (full context)
Chapter 30
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...he suggests that Maami should “compare the snakes,” and whoever has the longer one wins. Liomi questions the analogy, and Jende shouts at him to go do his homework, causing Neni... (full context)
Chapter 35
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...to her and kisses her. Her daughter will return to Cameroon as an American, and Liomi will become American, too. (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Later that night, Neni tells Jende about how happy everyone was to welcome her, Liomi, and Timba to the church. Jende figures that it’s because they don’t have any black... (full context)
Chapter 37
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...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 and chicken stew,... (full context)
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...Neni’s father sending him to prison, but also the “dread and despair” he experienced when Liomi and Neni ended up in the hospital after a bus accident. This occurred during his... (full context)
Chapter 40
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
...two restaurants. He works mornings, afternoons, and evenings, six days per week. He leaves before Liomi wakes up and returns when his son goes to bed. He makes less than half... (full context)
Chapter 47
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
...in front of the auditorium. Fatou stays with Timba in the hall while Winston and Liomi clap and cheer as Neni is inducted into Phi Theta Kappa. (full context)
Chapter 50
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...to New York so that he could move there and eventually bring over her and Liomi, she was so ecstatic that she wept and wrote Winston a five-paragraph letter of gratitude.... (full context)
Chapter 52
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 53
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
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... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience 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... (full context)
Chapter 54
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
Liomi runs out of the bedroom and sees his mother “balled in a corner and his... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...fourteen hours later with a bouquet of red roses and a new video game for Liomi. He promises to do all that he can to give them good lives in Cameroon.... (full context)
Chapter 56
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...in Limbe: dollar-store toys for the children, foods in jars and the sweet cereal that Liomi likes; clothes that will help them “preserve their American aura.” For herself, she buys beauty... (full context)
Chapter 57
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...maid. Jende could start a business and, someday, build a large brick house. He’d send Liomi to the boarding school that Winston attended. Winston encourages his idea to hire people to... (full context)
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
...that she’s back to despising him for taking her and their children away from America. Liomi, however, has forgiven him. (full context)
Chapter 62
The Sustainability of the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...and white sign above 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... (full context)