Understanding Barack Obama’s Characteristics through “Dreams from My Father”
APIKES Citra Medika Surakarta
Jl. KH. Samanhudi 93 (Sondakan), laweyan,
Obama is not only popular as a president but also popular for his literary works. He has some literary works especially his popular books, such as Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, the Audacity of Hope, Change We can Believe in and others. His books can inspire others. One of his popular books is Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. In his book he tells everything about his life, his journey to some cities and countries. He describes them well and can hypnotize the readers. The purpose of the study is to know Obama’s characteristic through his book Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. This study is descriptive qualitative research; the method of the study is library research. The analyses and depictions in this study will be taken from books, journals, magazines, and articles that are related to Barack Obama’s book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, beside that to complete the data the writer takes the sources from internet. The result of the study is the book reflects the character of Obama. To analyze the study, the writer applies Psychoanalysis Approach (Id, Ego and Superego)
Key words: Dreams from My Father, Chacteristics, Race and Inheritance
Obama tidak hanya populer sebagai presiden tetapi juga populer karya sastranya. Dia memiliki beberapa karya sastra terutama buku populer, seperti Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Audacity of Hope, dan Change We can Believe in and others. Buku-bukunya Obama dapat insipre orang lain. Salah satu buku Obama yang populer adalah Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Buku tersebut menceritakan tentang segala sesuatu tentang hidup Obama, dan perjalanannya ke beberapa kota dan negara. Dia menggambarkan mereka dengan baik dan dapat hipnotize pembaca. Tujuan dari penelitian ini adalah untuk mengetahui karakteristik Obama melalui Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Penelitian ini merupakan penelitian deskriptif kualitatif, metode penelitian ini adalah studi pustaka. Analisis dan penggambaran dalam penelitian ini akan diambil dari buku, jurnal, majalah, dan artikel yang terkait dengan Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, selain itu untuk melengkapi data penulis mengambil sumber dari internet. Hasil penelitian ini adalah buku mencerminkan karakter Obama dengan analisis menggunakan pendekatan Psychoanalysis (Id, Ego and Superego).
Kata Kunci: Dreams from My Father, Characteristics, Race and Inheritance
Barack Obama is charismatic leader and a good listener, he wants to listen to criticism and learn from experiences. He has attractive style that can impress other people as well. He is popular for his pragmatism, flexibility, humility and outreach. Obama is totally practical and no ideological man. He is an extremely disciplined thinker, very intelligent, very efficient and he is very cool to face pressure. Obama has methodical and disciplined approach to make a decision. Barack Obama is a confident person. He said, “I am confident to face the future” (Walsh (2009) in Setyowati (2010: 54)).
The statements describe about Obama’s characteristics, his characteristic can be seen from his career as a lawyer, senator in Illinois and as Us’ senator. Nowadays, talking about America is identical with Barack Obama. Discussing about Obama is not only discussing about his career in politics but also talking about his capability in literature. He has some literary works, it can be seen from all of his speech in the early of his presidency could hypnotize people around the world such as his speech in Chicago on February 5th 2008. Beside that he has written some popular books, such as Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, the Audacity of Hope, Change We can Believe in and other.
One of that is his literature work that was not popular is his first book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. When he was running for the president the book was not a new book, it had been printed in 1995 but it was not really popular. It becomes popular because of Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston; Dreams from My Father quickly climbed to the top of the New York Times best seller list and sold millions of copies.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a Barack Obama’s autobiography. It is a kind of literature works and there are many kinds of literature works that can inspire people in the generation even for other generation. it can happen because literature is kind of mirror of the social condition where the works are produced, including the author’s live. According to Abrams (1953; 34) in his book, Mirror and the Lamp said that art is mirror, it is the reflection of object and event. Therefore the writer is interested in studying about Obama’s first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. The writer is going to study about Barack Obama’s Characteristics through His First Book “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance”: A Psychoanalysis approach.
Based on the background above, the problem statement of this study is how Barrack Obama’s characteristics can be seen through Obama’s first book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by using A Psychoanalysis approach?.
This study is descriptive qualitative research; the method of the study is library research. The analyses and depictions in this study will be taken from books, journals, magazines, and articles that are related to Barack Obama’s first book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, beside that to complete the data the writer takes the sources from internet.
The object of the study is Barack Obama’s first book: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. There are two kinds of data sources namely primary data and secondary data. The primary datum is Barack Obama’s book: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, whereas secondary data are taken from books, journals, magazines, and articles that are related to Barack Obama’s book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.
Psychoanalysis is a theory of personality, which employs the view of the person and the view of society and even the total philosophy of life (Freud in Pervin and John, 1997: 68). In Psychoanalytic theory, human is seen as an energy system, which is dynamic, and like other animals is driven by instincts or drives and operates in the pursuit of pleasure.
According to Rosiani (2014:1) Psychoanalysis is the branch of psychological study that focuses on the personality of human being. Miderop (2010: 11) in Marsanti et al (2012: 62) states that “psychoanalysis is a discipline that began around the 1990s by Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalytic theory is related to the functions and human mental development. Science is part of psychology that contributes big contribution and it is made for human psychology all this time". According to Freud in Terry (1983:1) in Rosiani (2014:1), “all human beings are born with certain instincts, i.e. with a natural tendency to satisfy their biologically determined needs for food, shelter and warmth”. The satisfaction of these needs is both practical and a source of pleasure which Freud refers to as sexual.
Rosiani (2014:1) said that there are three main issues of structural of Personality namely the id, the ego and the superego. Rosiani (2014:3) adds that id refers to the biological aspect and the original system in the personality. Id contains the biological elements including instinct and id is the conscious physic energy to operate ego and superego.
Freud divided the mind into conscious and unconscious, then he filed topography of the ego (conscious mind), the superego (conscience) and id (subconscious mind) (Ryan, 2011: 131).
Moreover Marsanti et al (2012: 62) states that the personality systems (id, ego, and superego) complete each other and form totality of human behavior as the product of the personality systems interaction.
According to Freud in Hall and Lindzey (1985:3) in Rosiani (2014:3) the id or the principle of pleasure is the most basic system or the original personality system or innate instinct. The only function of id is to channel the instincts so that there is no strained situation as the result of pressure of failure. Id brings the individual from a strained situation to joyful situation. Id does not tolerate any increase of energy that makes uncomfortable state of tension. The samples of id are pleasure, they are reflex action and primary process, the sample of relaxes inhaling, coughing and sneezing.
Marsanti et al (2012: 632-63) adds that “Das Es or Id is a biological aspect and as the most fundamental psychological layers. Id contains those things that is present at birth, i.e innate instincts (sexual and aggressive), including desires of depression. Id is an aspect of personality that is dark in the human subconscious. It contains instincts and desires that do not know the value and it seems to be "blind energy". Id serves to achieve the satisfaction of instincts that is appropriate to pleasure principle. Therefore Id does not recognize the legal sense and Id is trying to satisfy the desires or submit to the influence of the ego ".
The ego is composed from the difference of the id because of its contact with reality. Ego can distinguish between things in mind and things in external worlds. The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. According to Freud, the ego develops from the id and ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world. The ego function is in the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious mind ((Cherry, 2006) in Rosiani (2014:3)).
Marsanti et al (2012: 63) explains that "Das Ich or Ego is the psychological aspect of personality that arises because of the need for a relationship with the world of reality (reality). Ego is a derivative of Id that assigns intermediaries instinctive needs of environment to find the right object in order to reduce the tension. In the development, ego grows based that the behavior is based on the principle of reality. As the executive aspect of personality, ego applies psychic energy to integrate the three aspects of the personality that arise inner harmony so that the relationship between the personal with the outside world can be a good. Using psychic energy that will rise of an internal conflict or inner conflict is expressed in the form of pathological behavior and abnormal behavior".
Marsanti et al (2012: 62) adds that “ego” is the personality system that acts as an individual steering to the object world of reality and running the function based on reality. Ego is implementative personality in the form of contact with the outside world ".
According to Cherry (2006) in Rosiani (2014:3), superego is the aspect of personality that holds all of our internalized moral standards and ideals that we acquire from both parents and society our sense of right and wrong. The superego provides guidelines for making judgments. The superego represents our moral system. It strives to put a right or wrong tag on our behavior, often triggering conflict. Its main quirk is morality.
Endraswara (2008: 101) in Marsanti et al (2012: 63) states that the superego evolved to control blind impulses of the id. This means that the ego is a personality system that acts as an individual steering to the object world of reality, and running the function is based on the principle of reality. Ego is implementable personality, in the form of contact with the outside world. The superego is a personality system that contains values or evaluative rules (concerning good or bad) ".
Suryabrata (2006 : 124-128) in Marsanti et al (2012: 63) adds that “Superego is the psychological aspect of personality which function essentially determines the truth or falsity and moral or immoral thing. Thus, to act in accordance with the personal morality of society, Super-ego is formed through the internalization, it means that the prohibition/external command is processed such that eventually radiates from within. A major function of the superego is seen in relation to the three systems of personality, which inhibit impulses en especially sexual and aggressive impulses, pushing ego to further pursue matters of morality and the pursuit of perfection. Activities superego declares themselves in conflicts with the perceived ego emotions, such as guilt, regret and attitude of self-observation and self-criticism "
Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father was Barack Hussein Obama senior; he was a black American from Kenya. His mother is An Dunham, she is a white American, and she is from Kansas city. His wife is Michelle Obama and he has two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Obama had great educational background; through the educational background he can be successful. He studied at Occidental College (2 years), university at Columbia University in political science (1983). He continued studying at Harvard Law School, in Boston he graduated in 1991. He began his career as a community organizer in some of Chicago’s poorest community. He was the first African American president of the Harvard law review. He was a state- senator from Illinois for 8 years and he was a United States senator in 2004 and in 2007 he announced his candidacy in the U.S presidential elections. Now he is an American president.
Obama wrote two books before being elected President. His two books are Dreams from my father: a story of race and inheritance and the Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Menerjang Harapan dari Jakarta Menuju Gedung Putih). The books were not popular but his first book become popular after it was boosted by Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Dreams from My Father were reprinted in 2004 and it quickly climbed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and sold millions of copies (p.2).
Obama’s victory speech elaborates on a concept he had already introduced in Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope: the willingness to hope for a better future as personal need and national creed, as a bulwark against pessimism and doubt. His first book has been popular and it could increase his popularity and it could support him to be the forty fourth and forty fifth American presidents. Therefore, the writer is going to study about the using book psychological approach.
The Impression of Barack Obama
Obama is very impressive person, Obama’s impression has been reported by Kenneth T. Walsh titled The Power Center in U.S News in June 2009.
Obama is an ambitious president but not overreaching. His fans like his pragmatism, his willing to listen to criticism and learn from experience. He is a new figure that can bring new things and changes for American and the World as well. As a president, Barack Obama has his own ways to build international partnership. He made sympathetic approach on his trip to Port of Spain, Trinidad, and other 33 nations. He shook hands with Venezuelan president Hugo Chaves. It shows of his humility and outreach (Walsh, 2009: 13) in Setyowati, 2010: 5).
Walsh in Setyowati (2010: 53-54) added that Obama’s capital to run for presidential election, Obama is a charismatic leader and a good listener, he wants to listen to criticism and learn from experiences. He has attractive style that can impress other people as well. He is popular for his pragmatism, flexibility, humility and outreach. It is totally different from Bush who was unilateral and intransigent. Obama is totally practical and no ideological man. He is an extremely disciplined thinker. He is a very intelligent, very efficient person; he has a tremendous calmness in coping with the pressure. Obama has systematical and rigid approach in making every decision. His charm lies on his confidence which impresses the American people leading them to vote for him. Moreover, his confident is an influential factor which helps him to face every bad situation. Obama’s characteristic is one of the factors that can augment people’s interest in him. As a matter of fact, Barack Obama has other impressions for Americans.
Before becoming a president, Barack Obama had been active for social organizations when he was in the university. After graduating, he practiced civil rights law, and represented victims of housing and employment discrimination. He also served as general counsel to social service agencies, promoted efforts to replace dilapidated other nations housing, and worked on voting rights litigation. In 1992, Obama led Illinois Project Vote, a registration drive that put 150,000 new voters on the rolls, helping Democratic nominee Bill Clinton carry Illinois in the presidential election that year (Holid, 2008: 90) in Setyowati, 2010: 53-54).
Moreover Leanne (2009, xv) in Komalasari (2009: 63) added that, the ability to convey vision, inspire confidence, persuade, and motivate others is key to effective leadership. It means that a communicative power has to be attached with practices and techniques that will assist someone to be the most notable orator in a campaign.
Speech code here refers to methods and techniques related to verbal communication such as slogans, diction, or sentences that are motivating and inspiring, as well as persuading people to always support Obama in his campaign. As stated by Harrow (2008), a Public Relation examiner, Obama created a strong, positive and consistent message (Komalasari, 2009: 63).
Psychoanalysis of Obama’s Characteristic through His First Book Dreams from My Father: Race and Inheritance.
In literary works especially novel or books, characters has dominant power because through the character the author can describe about the setting, plot ect. According to Meyer (1990) in Marcelino (2010: 24)”character is important in a fictional work because a character helps to develop the plot. Character is influenced by events just as events are shape by character.”
Obama’s book Dreams from My Father: Race and Inheritance is aouthobiograpy, it tells about Obama’s life therefore all of the characters are Obama’s family and relatives. There are some characters in the book namely: Barack Obama himself, Lolo Soetoro (Obama’s step father), Ann Dunham (Obama’s Mother), Maya Soetoro (Obama’s sister), David (ndesandjo) Obama, Bernard Obama, Abo Obama, Auma Obama Abongo (Roy) Obama and others. Barack Obama himself is the major character in the book. Through the characters, Obama develops the plot of the story. He tells the story of his life through the characters. Their quotes show what Obama should do and have done.
Figure: Character Map of Obama’s book “Dreams from My Father: Race and Inheritance”(Carol. 2010).
The characters are like in his real life and have the same names. Obama tells his life detail through those characters because the characters influenced Obama’s characteristic. It can be seen through the dialogue that are always remembered and applied by Obama.
Ann Durham (1942–1995): ‘“If you want to grow into a human being,” she would say to me, “you’re going to need some values”’ (p.49).
Barack Obama senior (1936–1982): ‘… the important thing is that you know your people, and also that you know where you belong’ (p.114).
It is obvious that Obama takes every value in his part of life; he can be a president of the Harvard law review, Illinois Senator to American President. He applies every value that has been got and he appreciates everything that has been found. Obama describes his journey as black American from one country to others that’s why he has found racism and discrimination as well.
Stanley Dunham (1918–1992): ‘Racism was part of that past, his instincts told him, part of convention and respectability and status, the smirks and whispers and gossip that had kept him on the outside looking in’ (p.21) (Carol,2010).
Beside that Suharianto in Sangidu (2004:132) in (Mahendra: 2010: 10) says, characters is the picture of the story both physically and mentally that includes characteristic, manner, behavior, view of life, belief, culture, and so forth. Obama describes every places that had been visited, he describes the beauty, the badness of the pace and culture of the place as well. He describes Indonesia through the character of his step father Lolo Sutoro and he describes Indonesian culture as well. He does the same thing when he visited his father’s village Kenya and he met his grandfather, uncle and all of his relatives. He describes that he can be very confident, charismatic, and respectful and humble as well.
“Now there’s something you can learn from your dad,” he would tell me. “Confidence. The secret to a man’s success. (p.9).
It had to do with something called respectability-there was respectable people and not-so-respectable people-and although you didn’t have to be rich to be respectable, you sure had to work harder at it if you weren’t (p.12).
My mother’s chin trembled, as it still does when she’s fighting back tears, and she pulled me into a long hug that made me feel very brave, although I wasn’t sure why (p.20).
He describes how hard is his life as a black American in his surrounding and how he struggle to face his hard life by getting support from his beloved family. He can be successful because of some beloved people around him and he wants to learn from his surroundings.
As the branch of psychological study, Psychoanalysis focuses on the personality of human being. Because according to Freud in Terry (1983:1) in Rosiani (2014:1), “all human beings are born with certain instincts, i.e. with a natural tendency to satisfy their biologically determined needs for food, shelter and warmth”. The satisfaction of these needs is both practical and a source of pleasure which Freud refers to as sexual. Rosiani (2014:1) said that there are three main issues of structural of Personality namely the id, the ego and the superego. Using the theory of Psychoanalysis, this study is going to study Obama’s characteristics through his book. The book does not use symbol to describe Obama’s Characteristics. Obama as the author describes the character as the real experience that he has had. According to the Psychoanalysis theory, the book is going to be analyzed using three main issues of structural of Personality namely the id, the ego and the superego.
Id refers to biological aspect and the original system in the personality. Id contains the biological elements including instinct and Id is the conscious physic energy to operate ego and superego. The sample of Id are joyful situation, pleasure, reflex action and primary process, the sample of relax inhaling, coughing and sneezing.
From Obama’s book Dreams from my Father: race and inheritance, Id of Obama is obviously seen. He is described as very cheerful boy who always enjoys his life wherever he is “He is curious and cheerful boy who enjoys wherever he is” (p.22).
Although Obama always move from one city or even country to other countries, he can enjoys the differences he had found. The differences are not only culture, language, situation, environment but also race or skin color. It is described clearly in his book.
I enjoyed exchanging Spanish pleasantries with my mostly Puerto Rican neighbors, and on my way back from classes I’d usually stop to talk to the boys who hung out on the stoop all summer long about the Knicks or the gunshots they’d heard the night before (p. 5).
Obama’s Id can be seen when he tells his activities with his roommates and with his mother. He can share joy and express his feeling by laughing together with his friends and sharing his experiences with his mother.
When the weather was good, my roommate and I might sit out on the fire escape to smoke cigarettes and study the dusk washing blue over the city, or watch white people from the better neighborhoods nearby walk their dogs down our block to let the animals shit on our curbs-“Scoop the poop, you bastards!” My roommate would shout with impressive rage, and we’d laugh at the faces of both master and beast, grim and unapologetic as they hunkered down to do the deed. I enjoyed such moments-but only in brief (p.6-7).
Sometimes, when my mother came home from work, I would tell her the things I had seen or heard, and she would stroke my forehead, listening intently, trying her best to explain what she could (p.24).
Id is not only about the joy, but Id contains those things that is present at birth, i.e. innate instincts (sexual and aggressive), including desires of depression. The Id of Obama is obviously seen when Obama describes his feeling about terrorism in America, he shows his depression.
It’s beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day, and the days that would follow-the planes, like specters, vanishing into steel and glass; the slow-motion cascade of the towers crumbling into them; the ash-covered figures wandering the streets; the anguish and the fear. Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and that drives their brethren still. My powers of empathy, my ability to reach into another’s heart, cannot penetrate the blank stares of those who would murder innocents with abstract, serene satisfaction (p.3).
The ego is composed from the difference of the id because of its contact with reality. Ego can distinguish between things in mind and things in external worlds. The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. Obama describes that living as black American is not easy, it needs hard work and patience to face the situation and Obama studies from his parent life especially his father to be stronger to face unpredictable situation.
In fact, I can recall only one story that dealt explicitly with the subject of race; as I got older, it would be repeated more often, as if it captured the essence of the morality tale that my father’s life had become. According to the story, after long hours of study, my father had joined my grandfather and several other friends at a local Waikiki bar. Everyone was in a festive mood, eating and drinking to the sounds of a slack-key guitar, when a white man abruptly announced to the bartender, loudly enough for everyone to hear, that he shouldn’t have to drink good liquor “next to a nigger.” The room fell quiet and people turned to my father, expecting a fight. Instead, my father stood up, walked over to the man, smiled, and proceeded to lecture him about the folly of bigotry, the promise of the American dream, and the universal rights of man (p.10).
The statement shows that there is conflict in Obama Senior’s heart, normally a man would be angry and fight if someone calls a black American with “Nigger” but Obama Senior was not angry and would not fight although the men in the place expected him to fight. He did something different; he smiled to the man who mocked him.
Moreover, “ego” is the personality system that acts as an individual steering to the object world of reality and running the function based on reality. Ego is implementative personality in the form of contact with the outside world ". Obama improves his personality by having interaction with others. He studies how to associate with other such as when he was in Indonesia he can describe and study the culture of Indonesian well.
In that last year of law school, I began to organize in my mind, with a frightening confidence, just how the book would proceed. There would be an essay on the limits of civil rights litigation in bringing about racial equality,...(p.4)
Superego is the aspect of personality that holds all of our internalized moral standards and ideals that we acquire from both parents and society our sense of right and wrong. The superego provides guidelines for making judgments. The superego represents our moral system. It strives to put a right or wrong tag on our behavior, often triggering conflict. Its main quirk is morality. Obama’s superego can be seen clearly when Obama was in Indonesia for three years. He learned from his mother to treat the poor and he can manage his emotion well because of finding which one is good or bad from the real life. The experience that is expressed in the book influence Obama to be low profile person.
He knew more elusive things, ways of managing the emotions I felt, ways to explain fate’s constant mysteries. Like how to deal with beggars. They seemed to be everywhere, a 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 jerry-built carts, their legs twisted behind them like contortionists’.
At first, I watched my mother give over her money to anyone who stopped at our door or stretched out an arm as we passed on the streets. Later, when it became clear that the tide of pain was endless, she gave more selectively, learning to calibrate the levels of misery. Lolo thought her moral calculations endearing but silly, and whenever he caught me following her example with the few coins in my possession, he would raise his eyebrows and take me aside.
“How much money do you have?” he would ask. I’d empty my pocket. “Thirty rupiah.” “How many beggars are there on the street?”
I tried to imagine the number that had come by the house in the last week. “You see?” he said, once it was clear I’d lost count. “Better to save your money and make sure you don’t end up on the street yourself.”
He was the same way about servants. They were mostly young villagers newly arrived in the city, often working for families not much better off than themselves, sending money to their people back in the country or saving enough to start their own businesses. If they had ambition, Lolo was willing to help them get their start, and he would generally tolerate their personal idiosyncrasies: for over a year, he employed a good-natured young man who liked to dress up as a woman on weekends-Lolo loved the man’s cooking. But he would fire the servants without compunction if they were clumsy, forgetful, or otherwise cost him money; and he would be baffled when either my mother or I tried to protect them from his judgment.
“Your mother has a soft heart,” Lolo would tell me one day after my mother tried to take the blame for knocking a radio off the dresser. “That’s a good thing in a woman. But you will be a man someday, and a man needs to have more sense.” (P.25).
Besides that, Obama can understand how life is by facing it and struggle to reach his dreams; He can appreciate other as well.
‘Away from my mother, away from my grandparents, I was engaged in a fitful interior struggle. I was trying to raise myself as a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant’ (p.76).
Dreams from My Father: a Story of Race and Inheritance is very great book, through the book, Obama describes his own characteristics and his life through the characters. The Id, Ego and Superego can be seen after reading the book. The characters are his real family and relatives. It describes about the real life that had been done and enjoyed by Obama. His journey of life can inspire readers to know more about the city that have been visited.
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