Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 321
Charles R. Johnson's Dreamer is a historical fiction novel written about Martin Luther King Jr., especially focusing on the last few years of his life. Johnson is a National Book Award-winning novelist who focuses on the issues of black life in several of his books. He has also been involved in radical politics and has created many political cartoons.
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Martin Luther King Jr. has been the influence of many books, movies, and plays, and has also been a role model for many people. He was a human rights and civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s, and he believed strongly in using non-violence, similar to Gandhi. King led many marches and boycotts, gave many speeches, and was planning a national occupation of Washington D.C. when he was assassinated in 1968.
The novel Dreamer is a historical, yet made up, story about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. This novel aims to explore King's life not only as a civil rights leader but as a human, a father, a friend, and a husband. The novel is told from the point of view of Matthew Bishop, a dedicated follower of King. In the story, a man named Chaym Smith is introduced. Smith looks very similar to Martin Luther King Jr. Because of their physical similarities, Smith becomes an official stand-in for King at various events. Smith's role is to learn to protect King should anything happen to him and to shield him from danger.
Throughout the novel, Matthew Bishop thinks about the concept of greatness. He wonders why one man, King, should be considered greater than any other man, especially Smith. He also wonders about what it will take to make a real change in the country and if life will improve for African Americans in America.
Overall, this story provides a new spin on the life of Dr. King and how his life influences the lives of many other people.