"The Color of Water".

Essay by naughtbaseballHigh School, 12th grade October 2003

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The Color of Water (A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother)

The English language only has one word for love. However, there are multiple types of love, with the strongest being the love you possess for your family. This love is not a strong devotion, lust for another, or love of God, instead, it is the inborn feeling that all people hold for their family members. The degree of love is the one and only measuring point of the strength of a family. There is no better example of this than the McBride/Jordan family in James McBride's memoir The Color of Water. Every one of the children had a different skin color, half of them had a different father, and they were all interested in completely different things, yet their family had a love that was beyond compare. McBride thoroughly shows that a family can not be judged by color, wealth, or any other outside circumstance, and that it is simply the degree of love that makes up a family.

The stereotypical American family is prosperous, and suburban with the mother and father happily married, and with two or three kids. Yet this is exactly what the two main families in James McBride's autobiographical The Color of Water are not. The McBrides/Jordans and the Shilskys are two extraordinarily unique families. However, the one element that binds the biracial, Brooklyn-dwelling McBrides/Jordans and the Polish immigrant, Jewish Shilskys together is James McBride's mother, Ruth. The characteristics and basic principles of these families differ in almost every way. Each family model is held together by its own system of values, relationships, and unwritten rules.

A white family of five and a fatherless family of 12 mixed children with a white mother are presented at a contest; all the...