Dreams from My Father Questions and Answers
by Barack Obama

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What are the characteristics of Obama in Dreams from My Father?

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Lauren Willson, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Some characteristics of Barack Obama in Dreams From My Father include perseverance, positivity, and pensiveness.

One area where Obama is particularly pensive is the gulf between the two backgrounds that he can claim. One is his mother's white heritage and the other is his father's black heritage. People see him as they choose but he has to decide exactly who he is. Obama has to consider what aspects of each culture and life he identifies with — and how to live authentically in a world that will judge him as it pleases regardless of how he sees himself.

To overcome obstacles that get in his way, he has to be a person who perseveres. For example, he grows up without his father. The man leaves when he's two and many years later is killed in a car crash. He overcomes this struggle — both of resources and of how he feels about himself — because he's a hard worker who strives to continue forward. He also finds role models like Nelson Mandela whose life and ideas he admires and identifies with to help get him through as he discovers who exactly he is.

Obama also comes off as positive in his writing. Even when life puts obstacles in his path, he meets them with positivity. He has to choose exactly who he wants to be and part of this is staying positive even when things around him are negative. That's one of the characteristics that comes through in his writing as a cornerstone of his personality.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that you can find many different answers to this particular question.  In the book, one can make the argument that one of Obama's characteristics is being pensive.  He displays a great deal of understanding and reflection about the issues of race and ethnicity and the role they play in the modern nation and social order.  Even if one were to disagree with his findings, one cannot debate the manner in which the questions are raised in the book are done so in a manner to inspire discussion, generating future thought.  Examine the passages where he discusses his own relationship with race, being of a Black father and a White mother, living with White grandparents, competing in a predominantly White professional setting, community organizing in a predominantly Black community, marrying a Black woman, and travelling back to Africa.  In each of these dynamics, the President offers a great deal within which to think and reflect, demonstrating his pensive nature.

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