The Test of Life
Life is nothing more than a test made to determine your failure. Each question mercilessly written to strip you of confidence. A trial designed to make you feel if you ever even stood a chance. The bad grade awaiting at your completion, slithering into your head, and drowning you in self-doubt. Your own mind mocking you, ridiculing you.
Life is not made for people. It will never be for people. It will always be the antagonist in every situation. Life is a character that teases you, making you truly think anything, and everything is possible. However, at the end of the day, we are nothing more than extras in a movie, made to be ignored, skimmed over. We have no vital role; we don’t even have any lines. We are not important to life; life will always go on without us. It does not wait for us to catch up and it certainly does not care if we do.
The American Dream is one of the many questions that we are given. Sadly, it is also a question that does not have a right answer. That is why everyone fails to achieve it, to accomplish it. We think the American Dream is achievable, but it never was and never will be. It is a fake reality, nothing more than a childhood fantasy.
In Behold the Dreamers, Mbue outlines the American Dream with the Jendes and Edwards. The Jendes are a family chasing after the American Dream and the Edwards are a family who has seemingly attained it. However, Mbue showcases that the American Dream is nothing more than a villain. It’s a villain of many different faces. It’s a perfect family, wealth, popularity, freedom. However, the cost of one is failed marriages, destruction of families, broken dreams, and death. It takes without remorse. Turning your goals into stars in the night sky; lightyears away and impossible to reach. The American Dream was not created to give people hope, it’s meant to wash you of it. It’s a tool to control each one of us, to always keep us wishing and expecting.
It led Neni to believe that becoming a pharmacist was ideal, possible even after everything going against her. It led Cindy to believe that despite her husband’s affairs and the abandonment she faced from her children, she would have a happy, picture-perfect family. Behold the Dreamers showcases how the American Dream always fails us. Neni, who thought all was achievable in the fashionable New York City, was left with nothing more than a failed dream and tested marriage. Cindy ended up destroying the very thing she wanted and ultimately overdosed on drugs. Not to mention, Jende who decided to move back to Cameroon after a run in with the common enemy, immigration. The book highlights how people come to America wanting to start a new life for themselves, for their family, for wealth, etc. For a while, it seems possible. You get a job, you start school, you make friends, but something always happens. Some recover and some don’t. Some can change their predetermined fate, and some will succumb to it. Mbue shows how a family with everything going for them and a family with nothing both suffer to the American Dream, the false reality created by Life.
Life is nothing more than a test that everyone goes into unprepared. You have pencils but each one is broken. You have scribbles on your arm and yet they do nothing to help. Everything you thought was important isn’t even mentioned and every fiber of you that thought by some miracle you would pass, lied. You will never pass, and you were never meant to. The American Dream was somehow believing that you could.