Category Archives: Mbue

I Would Rather Read Dante’s Inferno Cover to Cover than Allow A Man to Hit Me

There is a list of non school appropriate expressions I could use to describe my utter disdain for the topic of domestic violence. I believe that there is no love in physical violence, no matter how many times someone gaslights you to understand their perspective or tries to justify their raised hand and provoked anger. Reading about the relationship between Neni and Jende practically forced me to acknowledge the African diaspora and its cultural influences on the topics of love, marriage, and societal roles. For the Jonga couple, it is safe to say that their love language is acts of service. Jende worked odd jobs in order to fund Neni’s education, her American dream. Neni would take care of him when he would be in excruciating pain after working long hours. For the Jongas, even through the struggle, their love seemed to manifest itself through actions taken. The one thing that I could not get down with was when their acts of service were taken advantage of, not particularly by themselves but by their families in Cameroon. For example, when Neni’s father chewed her out for not sending money for her dying “brother.” It killed me because Jende worked so hard… Honestly and truthfully, I really have one thing that I want to discuss and that is the physical abuse that Jende invoked on Neni. The way my heart descended into my nether regions when Neni realized that her husband had slapped the black off her cheek was astounding. My heart then made its decent into the fifth circle of hell when he not only continued to wale on her, but how she asked for it, wanted it even. Now, there is a lot to divulge here, for starters, THEY WERE BOTH AT FAULT. I lack of a lot of things, but I like to think that perspective is not one of them. Neni provoked Jende when he was down. I know that when I am down and out, overstimulated and overworked, the last thing I need is a list of grievances hurled my way. She just kept going and going and I found myself telling her character to stop talking because you know how these African men are. I was begging Papa God himself to make her shut up because I was experiencing the worse second-hand embarrassment. Then he hit her. Surprisingly enough, that was not the worst part. The absolute worst part was the he threatened to do it again and again. There was no hesitation, no remorse, just the loaded threat to hurt her over and over. It was at this point where I dropped the naïve spirit I had about relationships and their everchanging dynamics. I wanted to believe that when you love someone, no matter what, you would stop at nothing to prevent anyone, anything, or any circumstance from hurting them, but I learned that that is not always realistic. Neni thought she was helping, she thought she could talk more about the American dream in hopes that he would seek help for his troubles and take further refuge within the United States, but she ended up hurting him. Neni ended up causing more pain to the man she loves, provoking him when he was vulnerable, thus sparking an adverse reaction. Jende reacted in the way that most would act when they are at their wits end, he blew up with shrapnel being his hands and the casualties being his wife. Just because I understand both rights and wrongs doesn’t mean I will not be biased. I refuse to stay with someone who feels the need to raise their fist to silence me. Hell, I refuse to be with someone who wants to silence me (although I know that there are times to speak and times to be silent). I know that relationships, especially courtship, can be rough. However, there is one thing that needs to be made abundantly clear: While there is no love like struggle love, there is also no heat that compares that from a fresh lash.

Behold the Dreamers…Let’s Talk About It!

Behold the Dreamers was pretty good novel. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate it a 7. As a Summer read I feels as if the story progressed too slowly and there wasn’t enough excitement for me which is why it took me forever to read it. Personally as the story progressed I knew what the outcome would be before I got to the end of a chapter. I do admire the fact that Mbue channeled what it’s like to not only being an African immigrant going to America but wanting a “better” life for herself and her family, assuming that some of the story is some of what she experienced. Being an American on the outside looking in, the novel humbled me in a way I didn’t expect but there wasn’t a coming revelation. When I say there wasn’t a revelation, meaning, the novel did not reveal a new surprising unknown facts. What Mbue reveled in the novel was not dramatic enough for me to ever want to read it again. I also admire Neni and Jende for being resilient and determined to try to obtain what’s known to be the “American Dream.” At times they were incredibly naïve for assuming that it would not be difficult to live a normal life without Jende’s documents. It’s not something you can just sweep up under a rug. The complications of everyday life is difficult within itself not to mention the stress of not having legal documents to stay in America. So many obstacles were thrown Jende and Neni’s way: the roach filled apartment with no air conditioning, Neni got pregnant, school became harder to maintain for her, Jende lost his job, Jende’s back went out and his anger grew, and lastly the thought of going back to Cameroon angered Neni and Jende would grow more hostile. Now let’s talk about the most exciting part out of the whole novel, the slap! As a woman I felt really bad for Neni. She really wanted to stay in America but it wasn’t worth it anymore and Jende explained this in numerous ways but she still had her heart on staying in America. Although Jende was very upset and told Neni to shush several times, violence was not the answer! He didn’t hit her once he hit her four times! It couldn’t be me! In African culture it’s deem acceptable to “put a woman in her place,” but not here in America! I would have got my lick back,” an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Jende did apologize but the way I see it, it wouldn’t have worked. I mean really, four times! After Jende grew tired of America and he accepted the fact that there was nothing more he could do to stay in America without his papers, I knew they would return home. It wasn’t all in vain though! They returned home with more money in their pockets than than before and they got to experience what it’s like being there. Everything happens for a reason!

Behold the Dreamers

As you and I both know, I did not fully read this book. It’s not that I wanted to be defiant and be like the bad kid that skips his summer reading, but it is just that this book never really just grabbed my attention, but with every book we read in our class, you point out all of the major concepts I miss while I read(skim) through the book. You keep mentioning the idea of dropping this book for the rising seniors next year, and even though my opinion is highly invalid seeing as I barely read the book, I believe that you should keep this book for the rising class. The thing that this book has that we do not get in a lot of other books is the concept of the immigration. None of the books we have read to this point and none of the books we will read in the future(to my knowledge) focus on immigration, and I believe it is a concept we can all learn more about. While writing this blog post, I did a little google search to see the percentage of immigrants that live in the United States, and I found that in 2019, 13.7 percent of the United States were immigrants. What I also found was that in 2020, that percentage went up by 13%, making that 26% of the United States population being immigrants. The United States is the country with the largest immigrant intake in the world, and to this day I still barely know anything about the immigration process and what really attracts immigrants to the United States. That is why we need this book though, because as I have only lived in America, I do not know all of the struggles some face past the Atlantic Ocean. This book shows us what some immigrants struggle with through Jende and Neni. Behold the Dreamers gave me a taste of why some immigrants come to America chasing the “American Dream”, and the things they will do to achieve it. While some immigrants may not have to deal with driving around an investor of a failing company and a pill popping house-wife like the characters in our book, it really opened my eyes and made me think about the struggles that immigrants may actually have to go through. I am sure that no one has a fun and exciting experience going through Ellis Island, and that is just the first stop in an immigrants new life in America. Then there is all of the housing situations, finding jobs that pay well enough to support your family, and even just fitting in. This “American Dream” that immigrants come to chase does not come easy, and this book opened my eyes to that. This is why I believe we must keep this book on the syllabus, even though it can be very anti-climatic at times, I think it should still be on the syllabus to teach us non-immigrants a thing or two. Also the boredom argument is invalid if you keep Walden, that book is so boring.

Mbue Blog Post

 

This book describes the struggles of an East African family from the town of Limbe, in Cameroon, Africa, as they move from a third world country to America in order to begin a new life and give their children the best possible chances at being successful in life. When this family, the Jongas moved from Cameroon to America they had huge expectations as to what life in America would be like. Jende Jonga moved to NYC, New York, years before he brought his wife and son to New York, so that he could have some money saved up and a decent place for them to live when they came. Once he had finally saved up enough money to accomplish this feat he paid for two airline tickets from Cameroon to NYC. Once they arrived Neni (Jende’s soon to be wife) learned that Jende was applying for a job that Jende was applying for as a chauffeur for a big executive for Lehman Brothers, a highly esteemed financial institution on Wall Street. When Jende walks into the office of Clark Edwards he is extremely nervous due to the importance of getting the job. Jende soon learns that this job could potentially earn him up to 38,000 dollars a year. Once he gets the news of him getting the job he immediately begins celebrating. He begins to celebrate not because he will make lots of money, but because he will have a respectable job to where he can more easily support his family while they are living in America. From the beginning Jende has always put family above all else. He moved from Cameroon, the only place where he has ever lived to a completely foreign nation all for the sake of his family. He wanted to give his son and wife the opportunity to become successful in life and make lots of money. It is because of this desire for giving his family the opportunity that will eventually change the Jongas lives in ways they didn’t expect America to do. Throughout this novel it can be understood that America has changed the Jongas in some form or fashion. When they arrived all they wanted to do was to better themselves and give themselves better lives that they would not be able to achieve had they stayed in Cameroon due to the social caste system; not allowing them to have nice lives. As they spent more and more time in America it is understood that it has made them want more and more from this Country, and when they went into it they were expecting America to be some saving grace country where there was no possible way that they could not be successful or even be granted citizenship. They quickly learned how ruthless America can be, they learned that the process of immigration was more stressful, time consuming, and costly than they ever imagined it would be. They begin to find themselves doing things that they never would have back in Cameroon, Neni being willing to marry a complete stranger just so that she could become a United States citizen and Jende beating her for being willing to do it. They never expected this kind of change in their lives while living in America, they eventually leave America due to immigration and other reasons and return to Cameroon as wealthy people, now much higher in the social caste system.

Behold the Dreamers

While reading “Behold the Dreamers” and considering the current economic and political climate of our country, the question of perception and how those factors played a role in Jende’s life in America, and its impact in general was a recurring thought of mine. The American dream is defined in two ways, one being, “The belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for anyone” and the other one being, “The ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved.” As an African American exposed to certain atrocities and distasteful subjects, not limited to but prevalent in our country, at a young age, I have fallen witness to, and pin-pointed many of our country’s issues. With that being said my own personal beliefs about the American Dream and what it holds for my future most certainly cannot be compared to those of a White citizen of America. As people who reap the benefits of the country’s total disregard and lack of care for marginalized communities, White U.S. citizens have no reason to see anything wrong with our country, and may whole heartedly believe in the power in the American Dream, just as Jende did in the earlier chapters of the book. Perception, in the context I am personally using it in, is defined as “A way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression,” and it is something that can define the course of someone’s entire experience of life. This was something I realized while reading about Jende. His perception of Cameroun furthered his desire to be in America and his ambition to work hard for his family. Throughout the course of the novel, we as readers witness a change in perception on Jende’s part, causing him to question his former beliefs about America and what immigrating there would do for him and his family. A key, unexpected and dreaded moment for not only myself but most likely for other readers was the physical violence Jende displayed towards Neni within chapter fifty-four. Although the fact that physical abuse within society in Cameroun is looked upon as something not just normal but beneficial was briefly talked about in earlier chapters, it was interesting for me to see that as Jende’s perception of America shifted his specific actions within chapter fifty-four lined up actions accepted and glorified in Cameroun.

Behold the Dreamers in Today’s World.

Hello fellow classmates!

Today I will be discussing certain topics in the book Behold the Dreamers and relating it to present-day America. I will be sharing my opinions on them and analyzing some of the actions of the characters in the book 🙂

Imbolo Mbue does a great job displaying the differences between the Edwards and Jonga household. Jende Jonga, in particular, is dynamically portrayed throughout the entire story. He believes that his role to be the bread winner is vital to the success of his family. He wants his wife to simply be a mother to his children and not have the stressors of getting an American education or job. Jende finds value in having a good job and still spending time with his wife and children yet Clark Edwards is often working away from his home. Clark Edwards is a very busy businessman who lives a double-lifestyle to meet all of his needs. His youngest son, Mighty, seems to be characterized as kind of neglected throughout the story. His mother is an addict and his father is associated with prostitution which is definitely not the ideal home environment.

In today’s society many fathers feel obligated to take it upon themselves to earn money for their families. Many women decide to stay home and take care of the children while just as many juggle work and being a mother at the same time. Women like Cindy Edwards, in the book, definitely exist in society today. They are victim to the amenities of this world today. While there are so many substances and events available, just because one has access to it does not mean that they should go especially when Cindy is a mother. I find her drug abuse very sad and somewhat selfish knowing that she is not being the best possible mother she could be in her husband’s absence. In homes that accumulate a large amount of income along with parents that have demanding jobs, the children often feel neglected just as Mighty has in the book. Materialistic things do not guarantee the happiness of a human-being, rather it is the heartfelt and thoughtful things that bring joy. While our generation puts tons of emphasis on luxurious lifestyles, we do still value the little things in life just as Mighty and Vince do.

The book scene regarding the fight between Neni and Jende was absolutely absurd to me. Neni takes Jende back when he gifts her with flowers apologizing for his “mistake” in hitting her. In today’s society a black wife would never simply forgive her husband for making her a victim of domestic violence. The woman would fight back and/or leave the husband along with taking the children with her. In African culture the idea of hitting your wife is accepted as a form of “knowing their place” but I don’t believe violence should ever be deemed as acceptable in a marriage. I was disappointed when I read that section of the book finding out that Neni did not stand up for herself to Jende.

Overall, I found some parts of this book interesting while others were not as intriguing. I think that the story line was very well thought out! I recommend it to those who are fascinated with learning America through the perspective of an immigrant!

The American Dream

Behold the Dreamers promotes the theme of the American dream and the feeling of belonging in a foreign country.  Four main characters are prime examples of the impact of the American dream and the possible corruption that follows.  Clark Edwards is a stereotypical big-city businessman with a picture perfect family and stable life.  He is what people envision when they think “American dream”. All of the redeeming qualities of Clark Edwards lie on the surface, but his true colors show when you look past his facade. His business is slowly falling apart and he is at high risk of losing his job, and he is too busy to pay attention to his own family. The bustling city life took a toll on his life and he rarely takes care of his children, considering it an inconvenient chore. Edwards feels a lack of entertainment in his life and turns to cheating on his wife, who has substance abuse issues. Cindy Edwards grew up very poor and did not have much hope for the future, but she was lucky enough to marry rich and have a nice family in New York City. Cindy became a socialite and busied herself with parties, gatherings, and shopping. Her husband made enough money that she could live comfortably and hire a nanny so she did not have to care for her house or children herself. Cindy could spend all of her time shopping and partying – a little too hard. Alcohol and pills consume her life, and inevitably, her health. She became so wrapped up in the stereotypical American lifestyle that she fell too hard and let corruption get the best of her while her husband cheats on her routinely. Jende Jonga was hired by Clark Edwards to be a personal driver, which Jende agreed to so he could keep his residency in America and care for his family while his wife goes to school. Jende views his boss as the American standard – a busy, practical family man that dominated the work force and had a beautiful home with little responsibilities outside of work and family. Clark Edwards has a seemingly beautiful American life, which is something Jende and his family yearns for. They wish to stay in America, a country that promises plenty opportunities and miracles. The country encompasses fortune, popularity, brilliance, and fun. Jende and Neni Jonga fall in love with the idea of the American dream, hoping that it could offer more for their family than Cameroon did. Neni wanted the best for her family and her future but soon became obsessed with the high rises, mixed cultures, billboard signs, and McDonalds. America promised so much to the four main characters, whom all fell victim to false promises and high hopes. The desperation for a satisfying and fulfilling life even drove one of the four characters to death, and possibly drove others to a metaphorical death. The American dream kept the characters moving, and without it, they were not themselves. Cindy died due to addiction, and Clark hit his rock bottom after her death and had to move back to her hometown to escape the New York life. Neni became desperate to stay in America, wanting to leave Jende, and Jende became enraged and beat his wife. Corruption took over innocent lives under the name “American dream”.

What I liked and didn’t like about the book (mostly didn’t like)

What Jordan likes 🙂 and doesnt 🙁

I liked the messages that were being discussed, and these topics are very important for any American and for any person in general. However, this book is extremely cheesy and i feel like a critic calling it “one note” but it is to me. Mbue writing about the problems with an American capitalist “cut throat” society is great and needs to be discussed more often. However Mbue chooses to preach when not offering a solution, let me explain. Mbue’s writing comes off as complaining about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer but the right thing to do instead of preaching the entire book would be to offer a solution to this massive problem. No one is arguing that america and the life associated with the American dream is bad, think about the film the wolf of Wall Street. This movie paints the picture pretty clearly about what this life is about and i would argue that not very many people think of Wall Street as being glamourous. What im trying to say is that Mbue is not covering any new ground that “rich people are bad” because obviously most of them are. Mbue does however include the voices of protesters and people in the street pertaining to what they wanted at the time, this helps a little because she includes everybody and really does understand what people wanted from the dumpster fire of a economic climate that was 2008.  Also a popular movie that reminded me of this book was the film “Dont look up”, in which the characters discover a impending meteor and nobody listens to them and companies try to make money off of the meteor falling to earth, this is a clear allegory to climate change or even a disbelief of a pandemic’s impact on the world. Anyways, this movie was heavily criticized for doing nothing but preaching these ideas to the point of exhaustion. Here are some reviews of that movie that i also think can apply to this book, excuse the language for some of these reviews on rotten tomatoes

“It’s merely stating what everyone has already observed for the past two years, and delivering it with a shit-eating grin.”

Sarah ward

“Dont Look Up is as entertaining as watching your most obnoxious relative rant at the family during a holiday dinner.”

Sarah marrs (another Sarah)

“The films underlying message that humanity is carelessly barreling toward its own extinction and that we should be paying more attention reeks not only of self-importanceyeah, uh, we know?but also of a lack of self-awareness.”

Miles Surrey

The book lacks self awareness and i think it also lacks self confidence to have the characters take control of their situations and break the mold of a predictable story. From the moment the book began to introduce i knew that Cindy was most likely going to die, Mbue gave her little character other than being an addict. But what makes the character of an addict such a compelling story is that you’d have no idea that they are hurting themselves. Giving them  character before they are labeled “the addict” shows their downfall from top to bottom and  how much these people can loose. Cindy is missing most of the time and the reader can infer that she is doing something that is ruining her. what i would do differently is make her a very compelling character from the start seemingly against even taking a drink in conversation, only the slightest hints like maybe her eye twitches at work and she dies. It’d be a shock like how it is in reality and the reader would understand that it was her “perfect life” that caused her life to end. But im not a writer so i leave that to smarter people than me. overall the book was not bad by a long shot and there are really good thematic messages that should be considered by the reader, but this needs to be taken into account that this is heavily dramatized and very much reminiscent of a soap opera.

 

I’d rather watch Despicable Me

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is a piece about how the American dream is a fraud and about America’s image. The book follows Jende and Neni Jonga, Cameroonian immigrants, and their ordeal trying to establish a life in New York City. Throughout most of the world, the United States is portrayed as “The Land of Opportunity” where everyone is equal and anyone can make something of themselves. In reality, and I apologize if this feels too cynical, the United States is anything but equal towards its own citizens and especially towards immigrants. The Jonga’s find this out the hard way, as while they are constantly dealing with the stresses of providing for a growing family, they also have to deal with immigration officials and the prospect of getting deported back to Cameroon. I like the book for what it is and I think it pushes for ideas that are extremely important going forward, only we can make America the land of equal opportunity. That being said, there are two problems that I have with the book. The first problem I have is the book can be a little preachy from time to time, for example a line spoken by Neni which sounds more like an author pushing a message than a person speaking to their significant other. The second problem is keeping interest. The book has very well thought out concepts, conflicts, and ideas that make it up, the only problem is that the book is a bit of a slow burn. It has a lot of things building up but there is just not enough happening at any given time to keep me hooked personally.

Speaking directly to Mr. Nigro: Honestly I do like the book and I do think it should be kept, I think of it like Little Fires but without the teen drama and more entertaining at times. It’s a really good introductory book, but like I said in the second complaint, there wasn’t enough to keep me hooked, and without the accountability of being in school everyday, I didn’t actually read much of it over the summer.

This brings me to my title however I’ve already stated that I think the book isn’t very gripping but upon a re-watch, hit 2010 film Despicable Me is. I honestly put it on for background noise while I did my homework, but the first one is actually a good movie. I felt the need to talk about it and maybe now you understand why I’m writing this so late.

Sorry just needed to get that out of my system.

Back on the book, from now on will just be random thoughts that I feel the need to put out there. Bubakar is the shadiest person I think I’ve ever seen in a novel, the entire time all I could compare him to is Saul Goodman. Idk honestly what the book’s take on domestic violence is, like of course it’s painted in a bad light but it’s almost like pushed aside. Like for instance after the big confrontation between Jende and Neni, Jende gets her flowers, she forgives him, and the book pretty much moves on. Honestly I kind of want to visit Limbe now because of this book.

Behold the Americans

The book, Behold the Dreamers, contains people of various polar nationalities. The nationalities of these characters  brings to light distinct ideals of each country compared to the others. The culture behind the people of these different origins contains many aspects that are unique to them yet are indifferent to those who carry them. The first example of the differences in ideals becomes apparent in the book when family matters arouse. Vince decides to move to India despite Clark’s pushing for him to go to law school. When Jende gets word of Vince’s decision to do this, he disagrees with it on the basis of respect for Clark as Vince’s father. This opinion based around the relation between Vince and Clark rather than Vince’s interests shows a variance in ideals between Vince and Jende and also American ideals and Limbe ideals. Jende values family higher than most other things and is therefore willing to sacrifice certain things in the name of family while Vince values his beliefs highly but also doesn’t even take into account the aspect of disrespect which could be perceived through this neglection of Clark’s plans for him. This same theme of family is apparent when dealing with different types of relationships. Jende explains to Clark how he paid money to Nene’s father to gain his acceptance in order to live without guilt which baffles Clark. Clark’s reaction to this act shows the difference in tradition when it comes to family even when it is the family of another’s between America and Limbe. The reason I refer this act to Limbe rather than strictly Jende is because he claims this process is a common, even mandatory, process within Limbe while the idea of it is foreign to Clark and would be to the majority of Americans. The contrast between American and Limbean ideals and traditions is important because it emphasizes differences in each of the cultures which would not be apparent without comparison. The transparency of the distinct ideals allows for an external view on a personal culture and an alternate perspective on one’s set of beliefs. A second instance in which a tradition in American and the same in Limbe differs is in regard to funerals. Jende’s father’s funeral is depicted as a celebration of his life through focus on the positive memories. On the contrary, Cindy’s funeral is a mourning of her death with somber attributes. While there is no right nor wrong way of the process of a funeral there is value in the contrast of the counterparts of different origins. The benefit of this can be shown when Jende experiences Cindy’s funeral which alters his perspective of her and through the morning of others, allows him to understand the significance which she held in other’s lives. The funeral created a sense of gratefulness and pride in his home country since he enjoyed the funeral services in Limbe more than those of America. The comparison between this same event in different countries allows for the reader’s comprehension of various perspectives on the beliefs on death.

Behold The Dreamers

Behold The Dreamers written by Imbolo Mbue is a modern tale that takes place around the 2008 economic crisis, and the novel tells us about the American dream, and how it’s perceived and taken by the characters we see. The two that tell us their story through a third-person perspective are Jende and Neni Jonga, a married couple from Cameroon. They take turns in the novel sharing their perspectives and we’re able to see all that they want from America. They visit America wanting a new future for their son Liomi Jonga, and with a recommendation from Jende’s cousin, Winston, for a job. Once arriving in America Jende becomes the provider for the family as a taxi driver, Liomi starts going to school, and Neni also starts going to school to become a pharmacist. We then meet through Jende, the Edwards, an upper-class American family who employs Jende as a taxi driver. We meet Clark Edwards, an investment worker at Lehman Brothers, and later we meet his wife Cindy Edwards, and his two sons Mighty and Vince. 

With these main characters, the story progresses with them developing an understanding of each other and the way they want individually to live their lives. The Edwards like their lifestyle, but Clark has little time for his children and wife despite putting his all into them, meanwhile, his family’s relationships with him worsen as they live the high life. The Jonga’s on the other hand have a hard time making enough money to keep afloat and have to go through the problems of educating their son and Neni. The Jongas also have the added issue of staying in America, and not getting kicked out. Both of the families are constantly compared and contrasted in our minds as we read the story, and it’s an interesting and enjoyable dynamic to see how these two differing and almost opposite families have similar weights on their shoulders. Further in the story Neni works shortly for the Edwards as a maid of sorts, and she meets Cindy and their relationship starts. Neni and Cindy develop a strange relationship as Neni catches Cindy doing drugs and drinking her sorrows away because of her husband. 

Neni keeps her secrets for her and becomes a helping hand for Cindy for a short while. Eventually though, with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, Jende’s job is put in jeopardy along with Clarks as their funds plummet. Then along with their financial stability being questioned Clark starts to go to the Chelsea Hotel, and inside we find out that he starts to see another woman. Jende finds out about this and tries to keep Clark’s secret, but Cindy questions Jende and forces him to keep a journal of Clark’s trips. Jende accepts but continues to write false trips in the journal and while that appeases Cindy for a short while, she eventually finds out and collapses emotionally. Her (reasonable) breakdown causes Clark to fire Jende, it causes Neni to try and blackmail Cindy for money, and it can be assumed it’s what caused Cindy to overdose causing her death. The entirety of Behold The Dreamers shows us that the American dream has changed in modern times and that now it takes more effort from us as humans to accomplish our own dreams. The novel is an interesting read, and while it’s a slow novel, it’s not a very difficult read and it can be analyzed easily and thoroughly.

Imbolo: The American Dream doesn’t exclude xenophobia !

Hello guys, and welcome back to my blog! 🙂

Cameroonian novelist, Mbue Imbolo is the author of the novel Behold the Dreamers. Within the context of the storyline many themes are prevalent. Today’s discussion will be addressing one of Imbolo’s key concepts that, for me, conjured a deeper analysis: American immigration. The immigration process to America is a highlighted aspect of this novel. Furthermore, issues such as economic success, education, and the fear of deportation arise throughout the telling of this story. For a majority of the book, we observe the Jonga family attempting to emulate an “American lifestyle”. Historical analysis exhibit many examples of westernization and modernization within foreign countries. For example, in Japan, the 1863 Meiji restoration took place. This period was of cultural and social reform. Modeling after an “American lifestyle”, the Japanese began to reshape their country in hopes of becoming a world power. Now, what was the point of my brief history spill??? To put into perspective the outlook that other countries had, and continue to have on living in America. Both Jende and Neni have the preconception that American living is equivalent to prosperity. A perception so powerful that Jende was wiling to act on deception in order to obtain a temporary visa. People from underdeveloped nations in the world have the impression that America is the superior country; a country well known for its undeniable, unalienable “freedom”. Thus, being a highly subjective statement that is often thrown into conversations surrounding this topic: many Americans in today’s society take for granted the opportunities that are available in this country, some will argue. Revolving around the naïve and arbitrary decision to relocate to America, the Jonga’s abruptly learn their reality. The dependency of the lower class on the upper is exemplified through the premature relationship of Jende and Clark Edwards. In the beginning of chapter one, Jende gains the title of being a Wall street executive’s chuffer. The reader understands that the Jongas are having to solely rely on one stream of income to barley maintain a life in Harlem. Likewise, optimism progressively dissipates as the family struggles to reach their ideal life in America. Presently, when immigrants are permitted into this country, they makeup a vast percentage of low income families utilizing government assistance. Oftentimes, the job opportunities offered result in a below minimum wage paygrade. Barriers between cultural upbringing also conflicts with the normalized standards set in America. Residing amongst all of these hardships that immigrants face is racism. Whether it is in the form of blatancy or systematic, this factor is still very relevant. Xenophobia: “Dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries…the fear or hatred of anything which is perceived as being foreign or strange.” The term xenophobia has origins in America starting from a highlighted time in America called the “Gilded Age”. A federal law passed in May of 1882 legally prohibited the immigration of all Chinese laborers for a stretch of ten years. This infamous declaration was known as the Chinese exclusion act. Ironically, during the same time period, a port station called “Ellis Island” of New York was deemed to represent the golden gates of immigration in America. Yet, the restriction of Asian foreigners entering the United States in 1882 was viewed as patriotic duty by the majority of white America. The thought of Chinese immigrants working in industrial businesses and possibly conforming as American citizen’s was unfathomable. The thought of the invasion of Chinese culture was unjust and unwelcomed to the majority of white America. Accepting diversity, and establishing a common ground for the immigrants of America has always provoked controversy.  Although the Jonga family aspired to live their “American dream”, they were unable to prevail in a historically rooted xenophobic society.