Dreams from My Father (Obama)

Discussion Questions 
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Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Dreams of My Father:

1. Describe the difficulties Obama had as a child—not fitting in with white children and fearing social "out-casts."

2. Is it possible for any individual born of two ethnic origins to find a society in which he or she truly belongs? Think of recent authors who have struggled with similar issues: Amy Tan (Chinese), Jhumpa Lahiri (Indian), Louise Erdrich (Native American). Also consider the classics of African-American writers like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Richard Wright's Native Son, Toni Morrison's Beloved.

3. Discuss Obama's family. What about his mother—would you have liked more attention paid to her in this work? Also consider his grandparents and they role they played in his life.

4. When he makes his trip to Kenya, what does he come to understand about his father—and his own heritage.

5. Do you feel Obama's attitude toward the all-white culture is one of blame, acceptance, resignation? Or something else?

6. Ultimately, Obama's memoir is a coming-of-age story in which a young man who straddles two cultures seeks his identity in the adult world. How—or how well—does he succeed? What conclusions does he reach?

7. Talk about his work as a community social worker on Chicago's south side. What does he learn or come to realize about his role in the African-American community?

8. Knowing now, as we do, of Obama's election as President of the United States, how do you view the primary events in his memoirs? In what ways have they shaped his political success and his political views?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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