Behold the Dreamers

by Imbolo Mbue

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Student Question

What is the point of view and who is the narrator in Behold the Dreamers?

Expert Answers

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Behold the Dreamers is told from two perspectives.

Even though Jende and Neni are the perspective characters, they aren't speaking to the reader directly. The narration is in third-person and limited to only the direct thoughts and memories of those characters.

When Jende is the perspective character, some of his thoughts are revealed to the reader. For example, at a job interview, he thinks of a discussion he had with his wife the night before. The interviewer, Mr. Edwards, doesn't have any of his thoughts exposed to the reader because he is not a perspective character. When Neni is the perspective character, the reader sees events through her eyes. For example, when she's shopping with Fatou, she's thinking about how much she loves New York City. It's still a shock to her that she's there instead of unmarried and back with her family.

Jende and Neni are husband and wife. Switching between their perspectives helps the reader get a broader sense of what is happening and how it's affecting both of them in different ways. As they struggle to stay afloat and in the US, it puts a major strain on both of them.

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