In this section of the study guide, we will consider Barack Obama’s intention while delivering his nomination acceptance speech during the 2008 Democratic Convention held in Denver, Colorado.

Obama’s formal intention is to express his acceptance of the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency of the US: “With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.” (p. 109).

Throughout the speech, Obama also intends to convince the audience of the importance of the American promise but also of his efforts to keep the promise alive as President.

First of all, Obama intends to make the audience aware of the importance of keeping the American promise alive:

It is a promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well. (p. 109, ll. 5-8)

Obama talks about the need for unity, dignity, respect, the sense of community, and creating a better future for the following generations. Note that he mostly relies on pathos here to help create the sense of community and of a greater American family shared by everyone.

Through several allusions (to Martin Luther King Jr., the Oregon Trail, etc.), Obama tries to convince people that the past can be used...

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