Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue Summary Study Guide

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Plot Summary Part 1

Jende Jonga is an illegal alien from Cameroon. He comes to the United States on a short term visa, but he lies to the embassy and never has any intention of returning to Cameroon. He hires a Muslim lawyer named Bubakar and makes up a story about being persecuted in Cameroon and demands the right to stay in America.

Jende gets a job interview with Clark Edwards, who works at the investment bank Lehman Brothers. Edwards needs a driver.  He asks if Jende is in the country legally. Jende doesn't tell Edwards how he lied to get into the country and is making up a fake story to stay here. He says he's there legally.

Edwards ends the interview by saying he'll think about it, and tells Jende that his suit is awful. Jende thanks him for the advice.

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We learn that Jende impregnated his girlfriend Nemi in Cameroon without marrying her. She gave birth to a baby who quickly died. Nemi's family, outraged, had Jende jailed for several months. However, when Jende came up with enough goats, chickens, bags of rice and salt to buy Nemi, all was forgiven.

Bubakar, Jende's immigration lawyer, tells Jende to get letters from family and friends confirming that if he returns to Cameroon that he will be persecuted by the government. Jende worries he might not be able to get all these people to lie for him, but he will try. Jende feels he is virtuous and hardworking but has no qualms about manipulating the system and lying to get what he wants.

Later Bubakar, who assure Jende he will get asylum, tells Jende his asylum claim has been turned down and the government is going to try to remove him from the country. Jende is surprised since Bubakar, who took a lot of his money, assured him of success. Jende feels that Bubakar lied to him, just as Jende is lying to America to try and stay in the country. Now there will be a trial to determine if Jende should be deported, but it will take a long time to go to trial. Bubakar assures him he will do his best for Jende and demands more money.

Nemi, Jende's wife, notices she is urinating frequently. She decides she is pregnant. When African women get pregnant, they urinate frequently. They already have one son, Liomi, but when their new child is born in America she will automatically be an American and entitled to go on welfare immediately.

Jende's cousin Winston, who is a lawyer, invites Jende to a party. They meet his white girlfriend Jenny. Jende knows that Winston is just using Jenny for sex and would never marry a white woman. Winston lies to her and tells her he loves her just as Jende lied to the embassy when he said he would not overstay his visa in America.

Jende meets Edward's son Vince. Vince is a real hippie. Instead of becoming a rich lawyer, he wants to move to India. Jende tells Edwards that if he had a son who wanted to move to India, he would whip him in the ass. Edwards is very upset that Vince is a hippie.

Nemi, Jende's wife, works as a maid for Cindy, Edward's wife. One time he notices that Cindy is unconscious with drool coming out of her mouth. Nemi sees bottles of pills next to her and alcohol. She concludes that Cindy is an alcoholic and drug addict. Immediately excited by the blackmail possibilities, Nemi takes a picture of the scene to use against Cindy later.

Nemi is going to pharmacy school but Jende insists she drop out for a year to take care of their coming baby.

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