Six million. Sons, daughters, husbands, wives. During World War Two, this number represented the amount of Jewish people exterminated in a period a little over a decade. At the base of this genocide was the idea of anti-semitism, or hatred of the Jewish people, which was a major theme in the book The Color of Water by James McBride. While this prejudice is present in many spots in the novel, the author does not intentionally present a clear dislike of Jews, but rather gives an honest account of the story, which contains parts that might come off as anti-Semitic. These biased views are a result of James’ conflicts with Judaism as a child, and Ruth’s inability to follow her childhood intentions at the hands of Jewish authority. This book is also displays a lack of anti-Semitism because the benefits of Judaism are clearly exemplified multiple times in the book.
A main facet of James’ youth was his isolation from Jews and whites in general at the hands of his mother Ruth. On the few occasions that James encountered Jewish people, he stared in fascination as his mother haggled with them in Yiddish. Confused and amused, James always pondered how his mother learned the unique language. Despite these random brushes with them, James was mostly shielded from the Jewish religion, and began to infer that his mother disliked Jews for a reason, and that he too should not associate himself with them, claiming that he “never felt any kinetic relationship to Jews” (McBride 86). For a young