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The Color of Water
Transcript of The Color of Water
Follows James McBride's evolution from boy to man during the 1960's/quest to better understand his Poland-native mother
Describes his childhood in the 1960's
Raised in a household of twelve children by a white mother
Teenage rebellion resulting in his ultimate growth
Shares his mother's story
Jewish heritage in Suffolk, Virginia
Growth from Jewish daughter to family removal to finding Christianity
The story describes the similar growth of mother and son and their search for who they truly are
Character Analysis (Major)
grew up in New York during 1960's with a white mother
struggles with his identity
leads him to turn to rebellious behaviors
researches his mother's past to better understand his origins
Rachel (Ruth) McBride:
Born in Poland in 1921
Immigrated to the US when she was 2
Settled in Suffolk, Virginia
Married and had children with black men, much to her father's despair. She removed herself from Judaism after being shunned by her family, eventually converting to Christianity which helped her to grow in character and progress through the trials her life brought.
Character Analysis (Minor)
Rachel's first husband, as well as James' father
Died before James was born
Large influence to Rachel and James
Guided Rachel away from a dangerous life caused by her issues with her family
Lead her to convert to Christianity
Top 10 Moments
1) Rachel's mother died but no one in her family told her. This sets the tone for the book and shows that even though her family disowned her, she could break free from those routines.
“I been dead to them for fifty years."pg 1
2) James McBride explores his mother's past and digs for her history. He uncovers numerous things about her, helping him understand Rachel and her doings better.
3) James' step dad said his last words and gave James advice. “I wanted to tell him that I loved him, that I hoped with all my heart he would get better, but I could not formulate the words in my mouth.” pg 128
4) Rachel went back to visit her friend after many years. "She and Frances picked up where their high school friendship left off and remain close today." pg 274
5) Rachel decided to leave her pimp due to guidance from Dennis. “I was lucky to meet him or I would’ve been a prostitute or dead.” Pg 43
6) Rachel could not walk into the christian church on her graduation day. Her inability to enter the Christian church signifies her respect for Judaism even though she resents it.
7) Chicken Man got shanked and James realized he didn't want that life for himself. This event turned James away from his rebellion and drug use towards a formal education and hopeful future.
8) James' mother handed him all of the money she had and sent him away to college. This signifies how his parents wanted to provide a better future for their children than what they had. “The man died without a penny, yet his children grew up to graduate from college, to become doctors, professors, teachers, and professionals all." pg 251
9) Rachel went to the church that she helped found but nobody knew who she was; it wasn't the same with the new pastor. “He treated her like ... a white person, greeting her after the service with ... false sincerity that blacks reserve for white folks.” pg 252
10) Rachel got married a second time. By accepting another man into her life, Rachel is able to accept her past relations with ease and continue to move forward with her life. “See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That’s all. The rest you can deal with." pg 233
Aldrich, Bess S. McBride and Mother. N.d. Photograph. OffenBurger.com. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
The Color of Water. N.d. Photograph. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
Hevesi, Dennis. Ruth McBride Jordan. N.d. Photograph. New York Times. New York Times. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
James McBide. N.d. Photograph. Sydney Reads Books. Ed. Sydney Sanders. Blogspot.com. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
McBride, James. The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. New York: Riverhead, 1996. Print.