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Analysis of The Color of Water Essay


The Color of Water

This report is for Mr. Yellums period two, English four class. The name of the book I chose is The Color of Water. The author is James McBride and contains 256 pages. The Color Of water was published by Riverhead books in 1996, and is copywrited by James Mcbride. I decided to read this book because I had heard good things about it from some of my friends and it seemed like an interesting book from the summaries I read about it online. On the back cover there are 5 quotes from different authors praising the book, and author James McBride as well. They say things like this book is a monumental tribute not only to Jamess mother Ruth, but to the Family she raised as well..(John H. Williams, author of The Man Who Cried I am Jacobs mother). It was chosen as the book that Fort Collins read in spring 2006, a very important event for Mr. Mcbride and his book.

The two main Characters in the book are James Mcbride himself and Ruth Mcbride, which is his mother. Ruth Mcbride, born Rachel Dwarja Alyska on April 1, 1921 is a white woman Born to a family of the orthodox Jews. She was an outcaste from her family when she decided to marry a negro, Andrew Dennis Mcbride, which was a travesty and appalling to her family. She mothered 12 children which she raises in a small apartment in Harlem, New York, where she worked, hard low paying jobs just to pay the bills. She is really religious and believes very strongly in the power of hard work and putting your faith in the .od. The other main character James McBride is the author and the narrator of this book. He grew up not understanding whether he was white or black, his skin color was black, however his mother was white, which made finding his identity very difficult and stressful. He tried to coincide with the black power movements of the 1960s but it was difficult due to his white mother. He started to hang around the wrong crowd, but eventually realized that squandering drugs, alcohol and crime were a big waist of his time. His father was actually a very poor example of this. He turned to music and writing to take him away from the pressures from the place he grew up in, to commit illegal activities. Also when his stepfather died he felt an increased responsibility to take care of his family. He became the father figure in the eyes of his siblings and their lives.

There are many other prominent and important characters in the Color of Water. James goes through many father-like figures in his life. Andrew Dennis Mcbride is his real father however. He fathered and raised 8 of Ruths 12 children and died before James was born; but was yet a very important guiding force throughout Jamess Life. Jamess step father Hunter Jordan, is Jamess only father figure in his whole life; he married Ruth after her first husband died and was the father of 4 of her 12 children. He died of a stroke when James was only a teen, but many of his values and faiths are those of James. Ruths Father Fishel Shilsky is a very hard headed, racist, demanding person, he sexually abused Ruth and kicked her out of the house when she married a black man Her mother Hudis Shilsky was a very timid woman who lived her whole life with polio, she is very good to Ruth. Ruths sister Dee Dee is a very timid, beautiful girl much like her mother. She never had as many problems with her father because she never fought him, and she was very submissive to him. Her Brother Sam is also much timid, he is submissive to his father as well; which makes his father eve more angry with him because he expects him to be a strong manly figure who can stand his ground and stick up for himself.

The Color of Water is hard to classify in a particular genre. Its an autobiography is some ways, and a ficticious novel in others. Its set in Harlem, New York in the 1960s for the most part, when describing the life of James and his siblings. However, it progresses from the 1920s through the 1990s, and takes place in a variety of places such as: Suffolk, Kentucky, Oberlin, Ohio, and Wilmington, Delaware. Basically, it tells the story of Ruth Mcbride. From when she was a little child through to when she was an adult raising her children. It tells about her abusive, racist father; about her Mother and siblings and how she was the strongest of them all, because only she could stand up to her father. About her many love affairs, relationships, and flings. It tells about James and her other 11 children, and the many life-changing experiences they transition through. She is portrayed as a strong woman, who fought her way through oppression, and endured many hardships throughout her life.

My overall impression of this novel is that it is strongly, and very well written. It does a wonderful and effective job of portraying Ruths life. The one complaint I do have though, is how some part throughout the book were all too vague and lacked description. Some characters and events were much difficult to understand and analyze. I learned from this book what its like to suffer through hard times and to come out on top of it all, despite the horrible odds against you. You should never give up no matter what life throws at you, in the end things will work out and lifes insignificant moments of happiness make all the trials and tribulations worth it. The Color of Water does a plausible job of portraying that moral and message through James, Ruth and all the other characters as well. I found that it was a very good book and I most definitely do recommend it to anyone and everyone else.

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