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"The Color of Water"

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Eva Bowles

on 8 May 2013

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Transcript of "The Color of Water"

"The Color of Water" James McBride Literary Elements Ruth McBride Jordan Plot of Ruth's Life Found Poem About Finding Himself Setting Conflict Theme Found Poem About Period of Struggle Speaking at 2008 National Book Festival Global Perspectives Interview James McBride "My grades plummeted."
"I began my own process of running, emotionally disconnecting myself."
"I quit church and avoided my deeply religious grandparents."
"My new friends and I shop lifted."
"The cops tried to crack down."
"While we scattered like flies into the junkyard."
"I was obviously hiding, and angry as well, but I would never admit that to myself."
"I ignored it."
"I did feel sorry"
"my heart beating so hard, it felt like a brick pounding against my chest, but not sorry enough." There are many different applicable themes for "The Color of Water."
Some of them would be:
The past doesn't determine the future.
This fits as a theme because both James McBride and Ruth McBride Jordan learn how to forget certain elements of their past and develop throughout their lives to blossom into the person they are today.
With hard work, anything is possible.
This theme works with the memoir, because throughout the book, the reader sees James and Ruth overcome their struggles. For example, Ruth wasn't exactly wealthy, and for the most part, she raised her many children on her own, but they all went on to college and earned very successful careers.
Life isn't always butterflies and rainbows.
An example of this would be Ruth's relationship with her father. He molested her and made her work excessively in his store. The setting of this memoir takes place in the 1920s all the way up to the 2000s.
As for the actual place that James McBride's and Ruth McBride-Jordan's lives develop, it changes quite a bit. The different places include Suffolk, Virginia; New York City; Louisville, Kentucky; Oberlin, Ohio, and Wilmington, Delaware. The major conflict is the fact that James is struggling to realize his true self. He wasn't very confident in his own skin when he was younger; however, he grows out of this. Throughout his life, he begins to accept his racial identity and develops into a successful human being. We disappear in a hurricane of race.
I was confused about how to discover myself or who she was.
I can't outrun time or money.
I can't bury the question of my identity.
Black skin, white skin, they are only colors.
Squeezed between, I question who I am.
Strange isn't it-the color boundary in my mind, the greatest hurdle.
I was confused about race.
Fortunately, I found myself.
My solution was to stay away from the color boundary, to fly solo.
I graduated. I worked successfully as a writer. I realized my talent.
I frolicked. I laughed. I was free from searching.
To the very end, Mommy helped to discover me. Ruth moved to the United States at the young age of two. As she got older, she worked in her abusive father's, Tateh's, shop. He sexually abused her when she was a child. Later in her life, she dated a black man named Peter and became pregnant. Feeling sick of the South, and wishing to experience the pregnancy freed of the reigns of her family, Ruth eventually moved to New York. Her mother knew of the pregnancy and sent her to visit her grandmother in New York, which caused Ruth to want to live there. Her move and her defiance towards her father caused Ruth's family to disown her, which shows as an element of pain throughout Ruth's life. In New York, Ruth met and married a man named Dennis. During this time, she converted to Christianity, and opened a church with Dennis called the New Brown Memorial Church. After having several children, Ruth was pregnant with their eighth child, James, and Dennis became ill with cancer. He died before James was born. Later, Ruth met her second husband, Hunter Jordan, and they had four children together. Writers style Plot of James' Life Throughout most of James' childhood, he struggled in understanding his racial identity. He also struggled with his mothers differences compared to other children's mothers. He even asked his mother, "What color is God's spirit," to which she replied, "It doesn't have a color. God is the color of water. Water doesn't have a color." (p.51) Later in his life, as he got older, James went through a period of struggle in which he drank, stole, slacked in school, and did all kinds of bad things. After rediscovering himself, and realizing the wrong of the things he had done, James wanted to discover who his mother really was, so he visited her home town, Suffolk, Virginia. After all, James turned out to be a very successful man. He is a writer, composer, and saxophonist. He has written for the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal, The Boston Globe, People, The Washington Post (Style Section), the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rolling Stone, US, and Essence. Time and Place Geographical Images Suffolk, Virginia New York Louisville, Kentucky Oberiln, Ohio Wilmington, Delaware Cultural and Daily Life Images McBride Family Television show that
James remembered watching James remembered buying
Bo-Bo sneakers here Red Hook Housing Projects Music James is very involved with music. He is the 1993 recipient of the American Music Theater Festival's Stephen Sondheim Award for his work in musical theater composition, including the jazz/pop musical "Bobos." James has written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington, Jr., and Gary Burton. James often tours as a sideman with jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott. Anita Baker Grover Washington Jr. Gary Burton Jimmy Scott James McBride's writing style in this book was very unique compared to what another author would have chosen to write like. James was a jazz musician as well as a journalist which causes him to write differently than an author. These two skills mixed together caused him to write in such an engaging way. James McBride skipped back and forth between his own life, and the life of his mothers. I thought this was very interesting because it was like two stories inside of one, and I wasn't bored reading it. Another unique thing about how he writes is he went from the past to the present or vice versa. For example, he was talking about a specific memory he had of going back to his mother's home town and then he started talking about her taking her husband's ashes way down south. James McBride's writing style is so much different than other writers that it really sets him apart and makes his writings very unforgettable in my opinion.
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