Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 291
Imbolo Mbue's characters in Behold the Dreamers include Jende Jonga. In the opening pages of the novel, he is interviewing for a job as a chauffeur with an investor with Lehman Brothers, Clark Edwards. He is deferential and obliging to his boss, but frustrated at his application for asylum having been rejected.
Jende's wife is Neni. When she became pregnant with their son, Liomi, Jende left secondary school. The couple has been in America for about three years with their six-year-old son. Neni is a student, studying to be a pharmacist. Eventually, she is taken into the employ of Jende's boss's wife, Cindy. Neni's closeness to Cindy allows her to extort money from her.
Jende and Neni's situation is juxtaposed to that of Jende's boss, Clark Edwards, and his wife, Cindy. Clark Edwards is a trader with Lehman Brothers. As the company struggles and eventually declares bankruptcy over the course of the novel, Clark meets with prostitutes at a motel, where Jende drives him. Clark's extramarital affairs are eventually exposed in the newspaper, and his relationship is further strained when the Lehman Brothers dissolves, and he is forced to fire Jende.
Clark's wife, Cindy, routinely overdoses pills and struggles with alcoholism. She hires Neni to help her with housekeeping, and later asks Jende to keep a record for her of Clark's whereabouts, as she suspects him of meeting with prostitutes. Jende agrees, but tells Clark of her request. Near the novel's end, Cindy dies of a drug overdose and is forced go give Neni $10,000 in order to silence Neni's knowledge of her routine drug use.
Minor characters include Jende's cousin, Winston, who tries to use his connections to help Jende both get a job and procure asylum to stay in America.
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