"The Color of Water" by James McBride.

Essay by xvj713x November 2005

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Identity: As stated in Webster's dictionary it is "the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is defectively recognizable or known." In James McBride's book, "The Color of Water", he expands on this definition with his own experiences in search for his own true identity. With his mother, Ruth Shisky, being a white Orthodox Jew and father, Andrew McBride, a black Christian, McBride recalls his childhood struggle and confusion that was initiated from his diverse background. He writes of his own life occurrences growing up with just his white mother and 11 siblings, along with a tribute to his mother exemplifying her life and the pains that arose with it.

James McBride was born in the 1960's; a time where racial criticism was gradually beginning to fade away as black pride hastily increased. This was the decade where groups like the COFO, CORE, SNCC, and Black Panthers began to become recognized; the Civil Rights and Black Power movements had prospered.

Great events like Martin Luther King's deliverance of his "I have a dream" speech and the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 will forever be remembered. McBride's household, including their mother, supported these causes with high hope for change.

McBride never knew is real father, because he had died from lung cancer before he was born. His mother remarried to another black man named, Hunter Jordan, and had four more children, 12 in total. However, Hunter soon passed away too, leaving Ruth with all the children. She was very headstrong and "matters involving race and identity she ignored;"( 9) she refused to admit she was white. And though she had very little money made sure that all her children received a good education and attended college. At the time rarely did...