From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, Five-Carat Soul, and Kill 'Em and Leave. The Color of Water is an autobiography by James McBride that was first Read a Plot Overview of the entire book or a chapter by chapter Summary and. James McBride's biography The Color of Water is a touching tribute to his mother, Ruth, and to her remarkable story.
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Start by marking “The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother” as Want to Read: Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? See all 5 questions about The Color of Water. The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, is the autobiography and . "Ruth McBride Jordan, Subject of Son's Book 'Color of Water,' Dies at 88". New York Times. Retrieved January 28, ^ Hevesi, Dennis (January Get personalized recommendations and earn points toward a free book! “As lively as a novel, a well-written, thoughtful contribution to the literature on race.”—The Washington Post Book World. “James McBride evokes his childhood trek across the great racial divide with the kind of.
Putnam Nonfiction Recipient of the Anisfield-Wolf Award in for his memoir, The Color of Water, James McBride is a jazz musician as well as a writer, and the jazz tradition of complementary solos can be seen in his written work. The story of life lived on both sides of the color line, McBride's memoir gives equal space to the voice of his white mother who was disowned by her Orthodox Jewish family for marrying a black man and his own questions about navigating black identity as a mixed-race person. Born in , McBride was the youngest of eight children born to Ruth and Andrew McBride, a deeply religious couple who had founded a black church in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. After her first husband died, Ruth McBride went on to marry again and with her second husband, also a black man, have four more children. All twelve of her children went on to attend college, and most of them also completed graduate studies. McBride first wrote about his mother in an essay for the Boston Globe; enthusiastic responses from readers encouraged him to expand the work into a book.
She approached her relatives for assistance, but they refused to have any sort of contact with her.
Ruth met her second husband, Hunter Jordan, soon after. They married and eventually had four children together. James weaves his own life story into his mother's story. Ruth's philosophies on race, religion, and work influence him greatly.
Ruth always sent her children to the best schools, no matter the commute, to ensure they received the finest possible educations. She demanded respect and hard work from her children, and always treated them tenderly.
She had an unwavering faith in God and strong moral convictions.
To Ruth, issues of race and identity took secondary importance to moral beliefs. Ruth died at her home in Ewing, New Jersey on January 9, Despite being crippled on the left side of her body, still managed to be a loyal wife and good mother. Fishel Shilsky aka Tateh: Ruth's father.
Tateh was a terrible husband in many aspects such as fidelity and love. Fishel also happened to be a rabbi, who would get in bed with his daughters. He even mocked his own wife, Mameh, in public for being a cripple. Gladys "Dee-dee" Shilsky: Ruth's sister.
It is revealed that Dee-dee was the only sibling of Ruth's that was born in America. Often, Ruth would say that she was jealous of her because she didn't have to deal with the negative stigma towards Jews like Ruth did. Sam Shilsky: Ruth's brother.
He ran away from home at 15, no longer wanting to deal with Tateh. Ruth says that he died while fighting in the Second World War. James' side of the family[ edit ] Andrew Dennis McBride: the biological father of James, Ruth's first husband, a very caring father and pastor.
Died of lung cancer. McBride depicts the conflicting emotions that he endured as he struggled to discover who he truly was, as his mother narrates the hardships that she had to overcome as a white, Jewish woman who chose to marry a black man in James' childhood was spent in a chaotic household of twelve children who had neither the time nor the outlet to ponder questions of race and identity.
Ruth did not want to discuss the painful details of her early family life when her abusive father Tateh lorded over her sweet-tempered and meek mother Mameh. Ruth had cut all ties with her Jewish family, as they had essentially disowned her when she married James' father.
After arriving in the United States when she was two years old, Ruth spent her early childhood traveling around the country with her family as her father sought employment as a rabbi. Tateh eventually gave up hope of making a living as a rabbi. He settled the family in Suffolk, Virginia, and opened a store in the mostly black section of town, where he overcharged his customers and expressed racist opinions.
When Ruth was a child, Tateh sexually abused her and made harsh demands on her to work constantly in the family store.
Tateh cheated on his wife, in an affair of which practically everyone in town was aware. Ruth's brother Sam left home at age fifteen, and soon after, Ruth too felt she must leave. She wanted to escape the oppressive environment of both her family and the South. She was also pregnant by Peter, her black boyfriend in Suffolk, and wanted to deal with the pregnancy away from her family.
She took trips to New York to stay with relatives, and later moved permanently to Harlem.
Ruth's family disowned her when she left, disgusted with her preference for marrying a black man instead of a Jewish man, her general failure to embrace Judaism, and her defiance of her father. Ruth promised her sister Dee-Dee that she would return to Suffolk, but she could not reconcile her family's desires for her life with her own desires for her life. She betrayed her promise to return for Dee-Dee, and her relationship with her sister suffered as a consequence. This separation from her family recurs throughout the memoir as a painful element in Ruth's life.
In Harlem, Ruth met Dennis, to whom she was immediately attracted. She married him, converted to Christianity, and became very involved with church activities. The couple experienced a certain degree of prejudice as a result of their interracial marriage. However, Ruth recalls these years of her life as her happiest ones. They had several children, and eventually moved to accommodate their growing family.
When Ruth became pregnant with Dennis's eighth child, James, Dennis fell ill with lung cancer, and died before James was born. Ruth mourned his death deeply and became desperate to find a means to support herself and her eight children. She approached her relatives for assistance, but they refused to have any sort of contact with her.
Ruth met her second husband, Hunter Jordan, soon after. They married and eventually had four children together. James weaves his own life story into his mother's story.