Dreams from My Father

by Barack Obama

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Why is Obama's month with his father significant and which memories are most vivid?

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Looking back on his life, Barack Obama can see that the one month he spent with his birth father was of key importance. It marked their only time together. Dr. Obama passed away in 1982, when his son was 21 years old. Their interaction is described in the last pages of Chapter Three; and Obama refers to this month again, throughout the book. He wasn’t sure at first how to act around his father. He longed to better understand the man and his dreams, but never directly asked about them. He watched his father and admired his way of speaking to an audience. He remembers applauding whenever his father applauded at a jazz concert, since he himself wasn’t sure when the music was really finished. And he remembers his father playing Kenyan music and teaching him how to dance to it. But much of what Obama learned about the man was from stories his siblings and other relatives told him later. Eventually he could weave together a somewhat focused image of him.

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