James McBride's The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother

1118 Words Jun 16th, 2018 5 Pages
Philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Whether individuals are silly or wise, studying incidents from their history provides them valuable lessons. By unrolling their memories, people can draw wisdom from prior errors and safeguard their futures. James McBride typifies this notion when he weaves his mother Ruth’s old times and his new world in his memoir The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother. Via James’s quest for his mother's heritage as a struggling biracial kid, McBride portrays the strength of Ruth who endures social and economic hardships raising twelve biracial children. Despite Ruth’s reticence on her painful upbringing, the author discloses that …show more content…
Out of a mother’s protective instinct, Ruth avoids exposing to her children her memories of those unfair treatments. Instead, she acts tough to build up their confidence.Ruth teaches James not to judge people by their races and that prejudice roots in ignorance. Hence, education not only provides him knowledge but also help him to change his fate and prove himself. In addition, she downplays racism as secondary after school and church so it will not block her kids’ pursuit to their aims. To clarify their confusion about race, she explains to them, "God is the color of water. Water doesn't have a color" (McBride 51). Ruth vividly presents God’s tolerance and assimilation as water that goes beyond racial boundary. McBride illustrates that Ruth’s past endeavors against racism provides her wisdom to constructively guide her kids’ moral values and to remove obstacles to achieving their dreams.
In addition to growing savvy when dealing with discrimination, Ruth devotes her love to her kids so they will not repeat her sad youth. Roth recalls her despair in her callous Jewish family, “I was starving for love and affection. I didn’t get none of that” (McBride 83). Ruth resents the tyranny and cruelty of Tateh, who disrespects his wife, molesters Ruth, and enslaves his son. Attracted to black men’s kindness, Ruth falls in love with James’s father Dennis, yet their marriage offenses both Tateh and the Jewish faith. Ruth depicts the
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