Identity In Mcbride's The Color Of Water By James Mcbride

Decent Essays

The dictionary will say that identity is, “The condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.” The topic of identity has been a major influence in cultures and societies throughout the world, especially during the Civil Rights era United States. The author of The Color of Water, James McBride, struggles with this throughout his life. He details his trials with his own identity amid his book, The Color of Water. In his talks with Ruth, his Jewish blood flowing through his veins, and his time spent in Louisville, James not only learns who he is, but who he wants to be. Ruth was a source of knowledge that James trusted growing up. James, being a mixed child, is confused about what skin color God would have, so he asks his mother,” …show more content…

Despite never visiting Suffolk before, James, as an adult, feels a connection to the city of Suffolk. A part of who James is resides in Suffolk, and in an attempt to find himself, James went there to retrieve it. When introspecting the way his mind works, James thinks “My view of the world is not merely that of a black man but that of a black man with something of a Jewish soul.” (McBride 103) and “Now, as a grown man, I feel privileged to have come from two worlds.” (McBride 103). James doesn’t feel a connection to Suffolk, he feels a connection to Judaism as a whole. He appreciates that he’s seen “two worlds” and acknowledges that the man he is was shaped by both of his clashing cultures. During his stay in Louisville, James learns a lot about what he wants to be through what he saw and what he experienced. Once he returned home, James states that “Deep inside I knew that my old friend Chicken Man back in Louisville was right. I wasn’t any smarter, or any wiser, or any bolder than the cats on the corner, and if I chose that life I would end up on the corner.” (McBride 161). This reveals that James took the lessons he was taught by those in Louisville to heart, and they had a real effect on him. This is significant because without

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