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Kevin Zhang

Obamas Style in Dreams from My Father As a young man, Barack Obama had already developed a distinctive style in his first book, Dreams from My Father. Written in the first person point of view, Obama has a unique tone and diction. His language is generally colloquial, as if he is telling a story to the reader. Sure - but would you let your daughter marry one? (Obama 12) His writing is casual and he makes frequent use of these types of questions, which he subsequently answers. We dont know yet; the story to this point doesnt explain enough. (Obama 18) Since Obama treats the book as a tale, he constantly switches between story telling and reflection. He spends passages or pages focused in the past, and then will suddenly zoom back out and speak his present thoughts. As an example, after a lengthy passage about playing basketball, he comments, My wife will roll her eyes right about now. (Obama 79) He does this constantly, focusing on a story and then commenting and explaining it. Obama also inserts dialogue between long paragraphs, making it seem even more like a story. Obamas diction varies throughout the book. Generally, he maintains one of a storyteller; however, sometimes he will adapt his language to what he is writing about. For example, when talking about his old school friends, he writes, Shit, seemed like half of em wanted to be black themselves or at least Doctor J. (Obama 82) His slang and use of curse words appear whenever he is talking in a different style, such as here. Obama makes repeatedly uses semicolons, dashes, and parallelism in his sentence structure. Frequently, there are two repeats in his parallelism: Places where families might invest their savings and make a go of a business, and where entry-level jobs might be had; places where the economy remained on a human scale, transparent enough for people to understand. (Obama 179) In his refined but conversational language, Obama defines himself as a capable writer. The style found in his first book is reminiscent of his most famous speeches made later on in his career as President.