September 14th 2011
Barrack Obama’s Quest for Identity
What exactly defines ones identity? According to Merriam Webster, identity is defined as the distinguishing character or personality of an individual. One’s quest for true identity can be quite the struggle as it was for Barrack Obama in the story, Dreams from My Father. Throughout Obama’s journey, he was faced with many factors but still fought to discover his individual identity. Among the many factors Obama was faced with, the communities he was raised had a significant impact on his perceptions of the world. Next, Obama struggles with moral responsibilities throughout the story to himself and to the community as a whole. Finally, Obama was faced with multiple conflicts between himself and the communities’ interest. All though Obama discovered much about himself throughout Dreams from My Father, his quest for identity was never truly found.
Identity is something that pretty much every human being struggles with at one time in their life. It doesn’t have to be as blank as black or white because identity depicts what one’s life is comprised of. Identity shows off who you truly are, it shows a deeper side of who you feel like you are. Obama formed quite the unique identity, and questioned it throughout his life, probably still at this time now too. Being born half and half black in a time of racial tension creates quite a unique situation for Obama growing up. Economic factors often have a key effect on ones identity. For example Obama noticed that in Indonesia, he saw beggars and “They seemed to be everywhere, gallery of ills-men, women, children, in tattered clothing matted with dirt, some without arms, others without feet, victims of scurvy or polio or leprosy walking on their hands or rolling down the crowded sidewalks in jerrybuilt carts, their legs twisted behind them like tortionists.” (p.38) Through the experience with the beggars, Obama was able to get a new perception on his life. Many people in America and all around the world are poor and Obama realized that he was rather fortunate in his life. This community around him made him realize that many people all around the world are the same. Economic stability can help depict greatly on how many perceives him. If one is poor, their confidence can often be down while a rich man could live a pompous life. Among the many factors that led to Obama’s identity, his grandparents had a grand impact on it. His grandpa Lolo, spoke words of wisdom, preaching that “if you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.” (p.41) He taught Barrack that being strong mentally is key in order to develop into a young man. The strong people in life always come out on top, by staying positive and level headed. Even today, Obama has shown peaceful tactics that work. Without Barrack’s grandfather Lolo, his strong nature would have been put to shame. Although parents and grandparents can have a great impact on one’s life, a lack of a parent can too. Barrack truly didn’t know who or what his dad was like, he was only able to depict him through stories. The absence of his father left Obama on a search to empower himself through his father’s dreams. This daunting task left Obama always wondering who he truly is. In one instance, Obama was being teased by the school kids about his father’s racial background. To impress the kids, Obama lied and said that his dad was the chief of the tribe. This story clearly shows how Obama was ashamed of his father’s background. Kids around us can have a great impact on how we feel and sustain our identity. Finally, when the kids thought that Barrack’s dad being a chief was cool, he accepted his background and embraced it. These social tensions created quite a stir in Obama’s mind but only through social acceptance was he able to put his mind at peace. This role of biological racial heritance...
Cited: Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 13 Sept. 2011. .
Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father: a Story of Race and Inheritance. New York: Three Rivers, 2004. Print.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document