Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers


Imbolo Mbue

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Neni’s Father Character Analysis

A father of five who worked as a customs officer at the seaport in Douala in the eighties and early nineties, which allowed him to profit from the gratuities left by merchants (though he is adamant about having never taken any bribes). As a result of his job’s benefits, his family was rich by Cameroonian standards. He bought a brick house with clean running water, and also owned a blue Peugeot and a television set. Neni’s father lost his job when he was forced out of it “by a Bamileke boss who wanted his tribesmen to take Neni’s father’s job.” He ended up “transferred to a far less lucrative position at the Treasury Department in Limbe.” Six months later, his widowed sister died, leaving behind three children whom he had to care for alongside his own. Around this time, he impregnated a teenager, despite his 24-year marriage to Neni’s mother. People in his community still regard him with respect, but they no longer depend on him for additional income. When Jende impregnated Neni in 1990, Neni’s father had Jende imprisoned for four months. He also refused to allow Neni and his grandson, Liomi, to move to the United States, where Jende awaited them, until Jende could afford to pay Neni’s bride price. Neni’s father demanded goats, pigs, chickens, palm oil, bags of rice, salt, cloth, bottles of wine, and an envelope of cash. In regard to the money, Jende provided double what his father-in-law asked for.
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Neni’s Father Character Timeline in Behold the Dreamers

The timeline below shows where the character Neni’s Father appears in Behold the Dreamers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...his life to construct the lie that can win him asylum. When Bubakar discovers that Neni’s father had him imprisoned for impregnating Neni, Bubakar insists they use that, despite it having happened... (full context)
The Modern Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...peace. Jende continues with his story, saying that his and Neni’s daughter died in infancy. Neni’s father didn’t want Jende to marry Neni because he came from a poor family. Bubakar suggests... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...time. Jende explains that, in Cameroon, “not everyone can marry the person that they want.” Neni’s father , for instance, refused to allow him and Neni to marry because he wanted her... (full context)
Chapter 17
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon rich in the eighties and early nineties.” However, that was long in the past. Neni’s father was eventually forced out of his lucrative job at the seaport by a Bamileke boss... (full context)
Chapter 37
Class and Interdependency Theme Icon
Family and Belonging Theme Icon
...his head against the car seat. He thinks about the pain he’s experienced, not only Neni’s father sending him to prison, but also the “dread and despair” he experienced when Liomi and... (full context)