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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 311

Dreamer is a novel by American writer Charles Johnson. The book is a fictionalized retelling of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and the events of the Civil Rights movement.

The story is centered on Chaym Smith, who is hired as a stand-in for Martin Luther King due to their uncanny resemblance. In this sense, Chaym becomes a mirror reflection of the famous civil rights leader, and MLK is a mirror reflection of Black America and the African American experience.

On the other hand, it is Chaym who will get hurt or killed if an assassination attempt occurs, so it brings up the question of man's importance. Is MLK more important because he is a high-ranking leader in the black community and an icon in global politics, and is Chaym less important because he represents the common black man? These are questions that Johnson try to explore in the novel, which provides insights into complex topics that are not usually spoken of in public.

In the novel, Martin Luther King is portrayed in a positive but realistic light. The novel showcases intimate moments between King and his family. It shows King's worries and relations with various political figures and forces. In essence, by making the protagonist, Chaym, a doppelganger of MLK, the author is able to examine the various experiences of different African Americans whilst simultaneously examining the biography of King.

This is because Chaym figuratively represents the common black American and, through his work as King's stand-in, represents and sees firsthand the extraordinary efforts of black leaders during a turbulent and monumental time in American history. The novel also addresses the dangers of pro-black activism during the era, especially in the South. The fact that the character is hired as a stand-in for King shows that people are willing to hurt or murder just to silence black leaders like MLK.

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