James McBride received the title through a long ago conversation held between him and his mother, Ruth McBride, in which she gave her son James implicit responses to his queries as to why she looked so apart from his friend’s mother’s. He went on to ask his mother a question about “race” and whether ”God” was black or white, she replied “…. God’s not black. He’s not white. He’s a spirit”. “ What color is God’s spirit”? “It doesn 't have a color, she said. God is the color of water. Water doesn 't have a color” (pg. 50-51). It means that a persons race or religion shouldn 't be a deciding factor on the way a person is viewed. Water has not set color. It is clear. We should all be seen as the color of water which could possibly bring peace to our fellow citizens. It could even wash away other problems we still continue to see and go through in todays society such as gender prejudice and racism (etc). James mother’s contradictions weren 't necessarily meant to cause any confusion between the reader’s nor her children, but it is to give her children a understanding of stability. “ White folks, she felt, were implicitly evil towards blacks”. She felt whites were evil to the blacks resulted from the times they lived in. Blacks and whites were not widely adopted by people in those times to have any relations because, between the two races there was a huge split in their times. Ruth insisted that her children attend predominantly white schools because they offered better
James McBride describes the diverse nation that Ruth McBride created. She had Many different types of kids to build up her nation. Some of Ruth children had light eyes while the others had dark. Ruth built herself something amazing with a vast variety of different people not only in appearance but in personality. Both her family and church were made up of amazing strong people. Ruth built two nations of exceptional
This world is filled with many troubles including racism. Society often depicts whites as superior to blacks. However, this is not precise, because every race has both good and bad within it. The world is trying to break away from racism to become a better place for everyone around the world. Racism is not only about the color of one’s skin, it can impact individuals around the world due to their race or religion. The title of this novel is “Black and White” by Paul Volponi. In this coming of age story, two friends, Marcus Brown and Eddie Russo, who are black and white (respectively), are senior basketball stars at their high school. Marcus lives in community housing which is fraught with crime with a single mother. On the other hand, Eddie lives in a private house nearby where Marcus lives. Both Marcus and Eddie are in financial hardships and need to find easy money to cover their school and basketball fees. The two agree to start pulling robberies when they unintentionally shoot a black man. They are left in anxiety trying to avoid getting caught while trying to lead a normal life after the incident. They both end up going through the justice system, and Marcus must serve jail time while Eddie gets to go free. While all of this transpires, Marcus and Eddie manage to keep their friendship strong and overcome any barriers together. Any true friendship can overcome racial stereotypes put in place by society including the racial barrier between Blacks and Whites. The novel
Aristotle once theorized, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” The book, “The Color of Water” describes the lives of James and Ruth McBride and their journeys to find this happiness. Both of these characters, among other characters in the book struggled for the majority of their lives with the issues of race. They felt as if they were caught between two different worlds; the world of blacks and the world of whites. These struggles left all of the characters feeling forlorn. In McBride’s memoir it is made clear that in order to find happiness, the characters must first be able to confront and then overcome the racial divisions that were so prominent in their lives.
To be entirely honest, I’m really tired for some reason and thus too lazy to get quotes. So instead, I will paraphrase. Ruth grows up with her orthodox Jewish family, and her father specifically abuses her and molests her, which is pretty screwed up. He’s also a racist and hates black people, which probably gave Ruth an inclination to trust them, if only to spite her
Ruth’s Jewish background, her conversion to Christianity, and James’ childhood influence James’ confusion with his identity. Ruth was born Jewish and lived her life experiencing multiple situations of discrimination growing up. Jews and Blacks were hated upon during that period and by her marrying a black man, it attracted even more discrimination towards her. James experienced discrimination when he was younger because he was black. James knows nothing about Ruth’s past because she had kept it a secret from him and his siblings since they were young. Ruth had taught them a mindset that is set to focus only on education and religion, not focusing on anything else so they couldn’t question other ideas Ruth did not want them to see. When Ruth was living in New York with her husband Andrew McBride, Ruth found out that her mother
In The Color of Water James McBride has the tendencies of using similes and metaphors to make his memories more lively. The tone is enlightened because after conducting the interview with his mother his interpretation of her when he was a child has changed and it reflected when he reflects on his thoughts when he was a kid.“My siblings had already instilled the notion of black pride in me. I would have preferred that Mommy were black. Now, as a grown man, I feel privileged to have come from two worlds. 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). As a grown man, I understand now, understand how her Christian principles and trust in God kept her going through
* James notices that his mother’s skin color than his friends’ mothers’ skin color are different, so Ruth tells him “Who cares about your friends’ mothers’ skin color? Just educate your mind.”
James grew up in a racist and segregated part of history. Often times racial slurs were used to describe people of African descent during the time James was growing up. Even during school James would be called these horrendous names: “...someone in the back of the class whispered, “James is ni**er!” followed by a ripple of tittering and giggling across the room” (McBride 89). The fact that small school children call blacks these names shows how racist the many people are and the hatred and discrimination that blacks face. These experience taught James how people treat those that appear to be different. Another experience that taught James this was when he and his family went to the Jewish store and were discriminated against. McBride had many experiences in which he and his family were discriminated against whether it was by the police or store owners: “Some of these Jews can’t stand you” (86). All in all, incidents with people who have a particular dislike for blacks shaped James into the way
James McBride has faced many obstacles in his life and that consisted of facing discrimination throughout the majority of his youth, having an overall sense of being lost, being embarrassed by his mother’s appearance (being white), and questioning life in general. As the novel progresses, James begins to overcome the obstacles he has faced by embracing God and Jazz. He turned to Jazz in order to escape his drug use and drinking. James’ life has proven to be highly inspiring because he grew up during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. There were many conflicts surrounding interracial marriages and anything against Black Culture.
When people are treated unfairly or unjustly, how should they perceive it and how do they generally react to this? In The Color of Water by James McBride, prejudice shapes James and Ruth in many ways, James has different stories than Ruth, due to the fact that he lived in a different time period, which makes his scenario different from Ruth’s. Both faced adversity, and stood up for themselves and defended themselves in many different ways just to make sure that they could survive in society. Ruth had always taught her children to be independent. She comes from an interesting background, she was starving of love and affection as a child. Ruth has experienced a lot of grief in her life due to all of these bad events that occurred. Even growing up, her father had treated her unfairly by taking advantage of her sexually. This was definitely not a right thing to do, Ruth’s father was an abusive man who had a sex addiction. He was found to have an affair with another woman even though Mameh knew about it the entire time. Due to her rough past when practicing Judaism, she decided to practice Catholicism after marrying Andrew Dennis McBride. She felt as if she was a freer person, she gained a personal connection to the religion which was good because it helped for her to get her mind off of things. James is a very confused boy, being black and white. He’s unsure where he fits in when it comes to society. A personal connection that I have to
While growing up, James McBride never knew where his mother had come from. When he asked her if she was white, she simply replied that she was "light-skinned", triggering a long-standing confusion about his own racial identity. As an adult, McBride offers the reader his story by alternating between his mother 's voice and his own. Another example is when James writes, “All my siblings, myself included, had some sort of color confusion at one time or another” due to their mixed blood that came from their White Jewish mother and
Ruth led a life broken in two. Her later life consists of the large family she creates with the two men she marries, and her awkwardness of living between two racial cultures. She kept her earlier life a secret from her children, for she did not wish to revisit her past by explaining her precedent years. Once he uncovered Ruth 's earlier life, James could define his identity by the truth of Ruth 's pain, through the relations she left behind and then by the experiences James endured within the family she created. As her son, James could not truly understand himself until he uncovered the truth within the halves of his mother 's life, thus completing the mold of his own
This is fueled by, not only the changing emotions that teenagers typically endure, but also by the death of his stepfather, whom he saw as his own father. After his death, James cannot bear to see his mother suffer, for she no longer knows how to control the dynamics of the family and "wandered in an emotional stupor for nearly a year." James instead turns to alcohol and drugs, dropping out of school to play music and go around with his friends, which James refers to as "my own process of running, emotionally disconnecting myself from her, as if by doing to I could keep her suffering from touching me." Instead of turning to his family and becoming "the king in the house, the oldest kid," James "spent as much time away from home as possible absolve[ing] [himself] of all responsibility " As a result, Ruth sends James to live with his older half sister and her husband, in an attempt to straighten her out her son's life. James distracts himself with the life he found there, spending the summers on a street corner with his half sister's husband, Big Richard, whom he adores, and the unique men that frequented the area. During these summers, James discovers "[He] could hide. No one knew [him]. No one knew [his] past, [his] white mother, [his] dead father, nothing. It was perfect. [His] problems seemed far, far away." Instead of facing the realities of loss and anger in his family, James seeks distractions
The middle of the book takes more of a look of some of the prejudices that both Ruth and James went through during their upbringing. Ruth begins to talk about the difficulties that came with being Jewish and living in the South during that time period. She was always the target for mockery by her peers, but fortunately met a girl named Frances who truly accepted her for who she was. They would spend a lot of time together, most of the time at Frances’ house due Tateh’s discern for gentiles. James also faced similar prejudices at school. Since his mother put so much of an emphasis on schoolwork, James and all of his siblings would have to go to predominantly Jewish schools and were the objects of ridicule for the other students. There was one instance in particular in which James was asked by his classmates to dance because of a predisposed idea that because he was black he could dance. He danced for the class, but conflicting thoughts were rushing through his mind. He felt accepted by his peers, but also ashamed that he stooped so low to gain that acceptance. This example as well as other instances that occurred with his siblings showed the racial tensions that were filling the air at that time.
For example, James creates a persona in the mirror believing that his reflection lives a happy life, causing James much jealousy. He says of the boy in the mirror that he, “was free. He was never hungry, he has his own bed probably and his mother wasn’t white” (91). Since the boy in the mirror represents the life which James wishes to have, it is clear here that James resents not having consistent meals everyday and having to share with his siblings, but he also dislikes having a white mother. This information was deliberately written in this way to reveal that even though at this moment, James is a child, he has a seasoned understanding of the odd looks he receives because of his mother. He blames his mother for his problems, believing her race subtracts from him since they are related. Therefore, McBride must believe that conformity begins at even a young age because once one is able to recognize differences between themselves and others, they will begin to begrudge the differences leading to a hatred of their own lives in comparison to another, weakening their self identity. Moreover, through diction, McBride shows his desire to conform and embarrassment of his mother, who makes him different. After an incident at a store over spoiled milk, James thinks to himself, “I thought it would be easier if we were just one color, black or white… I would have preferred that Mommy were black” (103). The purpose of using the word color as opposed to race is done to portray James’s desire for simplicity in the situation, which he believes can be achieved through conforming wholly to either being black or white. James blames his mother for marrying a black man and causing his racial identity crisis, leading to pent up animosity. McBride consequently must regard being biracial as a complication, since it prevents individuals