For your final discussion about the book, please select an excerpt from the text that jumps off the page. Why? Beautiful writing? Does it reveal a theme? Does it connect to your work with Greg? Write the quote and explain...try to dig deep and discern.
5/12/2013 01:30:26 am
Chapter 18 was the most important chapter for the author because it was about realizing who he wanted to become and what their family had become as well. McBride knows that if the family had stayed in New York, their mother would have gone completely bankrupt. He also knew that if he stayed, he would just go back into being the bad kid in the family. What really got to me was when he said to his mom who was still indecisive about moving, "what's back in New York?..there's nothing back there for us. It's over. You can't afford that house." Though it was a hard change for them, the benefits out waited them because he got to go to college for free and met wonderful white people who paid for his trip to Europe. His mom was really proud of him and though it was hard to see her 8th child go to college, she was there to support him.
5/12/2013 11:05:46 am
I agree with Audrey that chapter 18 is of great importance. It reminds me of McBride's mother's childhood. Throughout her time with her parent's she was constantly moving, now, with grown children of her own, she's moving again. On page 182 James says, " She was spinning in crazy circles only because she was trying to survive, and movement was always her modus operandi when things got tough." McBrides explanation of his mother proves that moving came natural to her and was always her solution.
5/12/2013 01:50:23 am
I agree with Audrey, chapter 18 was a very important chapter especially for James. He starts to find himself and starts to take control of his life "The change was good for me and I gave up weed and drinking for the discipline of music..." Music became a big part of who he was and that helped him make choices that would benefit him and his life, like applying to college and getting accepted to Oberlin College.
5/12/2013 01:53:55 am
I chose that quote because it shows that James valued music above all and that led him to try harder than he has ever tried before and that helped him succeed in his life, instead of letting all the bad ruin him he let his love for music in which in turn ended up saving his life.
5/12/2013 10:01:50 am
The excerpt stated in page 250 of Chapter 24, is a realization I believe many Black people faced. "Sometimes we think if we could just go back in time we would be happy. But anyone who attempts to reenter the past is sure to be disappointed...He has gone onto a new and different life, and in thinking longingly of the past, he has been giving thought and interest to something that no longer really exists.”
5/13/2013 01:02:55 am
I agree with you Saima, I really do think about Greg's lessons every time I read "The Color of Water". I remember at the beginning of the book, where James McBride asked his mother what race he was, it reminded me of Greg's lesson on double consciousness. Furthermore, Black Americans had a struggle to find out what their identities were, therefore had to divide the identities.
5/12/2013 11:04:15 am
"Lord, it was very hard. Very hard to let him go. I was angry at him for dying for a while afterwards, angry that he left me with all those kids, but more than that, I missed him". (pg 244)
5/12/2013 10:53:13 pm
I agree with Noshin on the importance of this quote. It's a really accurate description of grief; the anger at the loss while missing that person. Ruth has been through many hardships in her life and she reacts in a very human way to them. However, with the support of friends and family, she gets through them.
5/12/2013 11:11:39 am
In The Color of Water by James McBride, I found it interesting how James mentioned that the "street" life "...wasn't as wild and as carefree as it looked from the outside...It was ragged and cruel and [James] didn't want to end up that way, stabbed to death after an argument over a bottle of wine..'You have to choose between what the world expects of you and what you want for yourself'...(pg.161)" Torn between two sides, James struggles to find himself and so he tries to do the right thing by taking the first step, which is to stay away from anything negative. This quote reminds of a theme known as appearance versus reality, because James realized that having too much freedom to stay in the streets like that isn't always a good thing, which may lead to more conflicts. James, also, wasn't raised to drink all day, work at a gas station nor get killed.
5/12/2013 11:37:17 am
Page 229 in chapter 22 highly attracts the reader's attention. It shows James's emotions and sympathy towards his grandmother. During James's visit to where his mother grew up, he walked by the river and thought, "...my grandmother had walked around here and gazed upon this water many times, and the loneliness and agony that Hudis Shilsky felt as a Jew in this lonely southern town... a disabled Polish immigrant whose husband had no love for her and whose dreams of seeing her children grow up in America vanished... suddenly rose up in my blood and washed over me in waves... but a new pain and a new awareness were born inside me." These lines express and show many emotions that James and his grandmother felt. They reveal a theme of unfairness and inequity due to the way James's grandmother was treated. Even though she was a good wife as James's mother mentioned in the previous chapters, her husband did not give her any attention, divorced her and married another woman.
5/12/2013 11:41:42 am
I loved reading chapter 23 because I was curious about how Dennis was like. The reader doesn't know much about Dennis and through this chapter I was able picture the type of person Dennis was. You could also tell how much Dennis and Ruth were in love. I thought it was so cute when Dennis tells Ruth, “You won’t get rid of me that easy.” I thought they were both strong people when you know what they went through to get married and lead their lives. Through this short chapter I was able to get to know them as a couple and better. Therefore when I read the part when Dennis dies I was really sad because they were such a happy and loving couple. It must have hurt Ruth so much when Dennis died because they were barely apart from each other for such a long time. There must have been a hole in her life when he died because for so long they depended on each other. I was able to get attached to the character named Dennis through this chapter.
5/12/2013 12:07:30 pm
This post/ section of the book reminds me of the novel-winning book called The Notebook. Noah and Allie both are lured into liking each other, but soon after moves to New York and separates from once her love, Noah.
5/12/2013 12:04:55 pm
When reading the moment Ruthie McBride is seventy-four years old, and attends the fortieth-anniversary gala of the New Brown Memorial Baptist Church was just powerful. She tries to give a speech but the only words that she says were “I want you to know you are looking at a witness of God’s word. It’s real.” (PG.257-258) You come to understand Ruthie not only as a white woman that went through a lifetime of struggles but a woman that had faith in a better tomorrow. I feel James’s life would have had a different turn, if he had a different mother and this ties back to the whole book. The quote for me can stand-alone and be beautiful with all the stories that quotes comes with.
5/12/2013 02:43:48 pm
I agree with Michelle, that James life would had a different turn if he had a different mother. Ruth was a very strong woman who had huge faith in God. This faith helped her raise twelve children and go through the big obstacles that she faced.
5/12/2013 12:06:06 pm
The moment when Ruth loses her mother in "The Color of Water" was very emotional and almost brought me to tears. The way it was written allowed me to imagine how Ruth must have felt during that time. On page 217, " Why couldn't it have been me that died? I would go on long walks and would forget where I was...She was gone. Gone. Lord, I was burning with hurt." Ruth relieves plenty of emotions that is not normally expressed when she is with her children. I believe this is a moment where she showed her weakness. Ruth had a better relationship with her mother than any other elders in her life. I would of assumed she would feel hurt but I did not know her loss would result in depression and great weight loss. By reading this page Ruth's character surprised me. I think the reason why she is so strong with her children is because she does not want to experience the awful feelings she once felt, also because her children would take advantage of her if she was an emotional wreck.
5/12/2013 12:20:26 pm
Yes. I feel like Ruth wants her children to accept her like most of her community in Harlem accepted her when she was married to Dennis. Not as what she used to be, a white Jewish girl, but as what she wants to be and has become, a strong woman who does not let what is visible define her. I agree with you Aldina, much of what Ruth tells us of herself has been going in circles always ending at her mother and her jewish identity. They were one in the same, she was a good jewish girl for her mother. Her mother was her world. When he mother died, of course she was devastated. Her world had collapsed and it's meaning had deteriorated. But it allowed her to move on in a sense and create her own identity-- whether she decided to be Jewish or Christian or marry white or black. That's why Ruth is so brave and strong and always wanted her children to not let their skin limit their possibilities in life. She didn't let her skin, her past, and her religion do it and she knew her kids would live to the fullest if they didn't have the at least the limit of their skin. In short, I agree with you, Aldina!
5/12/2013 12:52:30 pm
"See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That's all. The rest you can deal with. It's not about black or white" (pg 233)
5/13/2013 12:22:03 am
I LOVE THAT QUOTE. And your response. My grandma always tells us that when my grandpa and her got married, her family didn't agree. They said "your young, and just finished with college. Wait a year or two." They were waiting for my grandpa to get a job. My grandpa said "it's either now or never". I remember that vividly because nowadays when couples are engaged, they wait. They wait until they could "be successful." It makes me wonder that if they truly loved each other, they wouldn't need too much to be happy. They would need love and god to keep em going.
5/12/2013 12:54:54 pm
In The Color of Water by James McBride, chapter 21 definitely touched me the most. Throughout the book I was extremely fond of Ruth's relationship with her mother and when I read about her Mameh's death, it made me upset. In a way I can relate because I have a great relationship with my own mother and perhaps the reason why this part in the book upset me so much is because I can imagine me in Ruth's place. In this chapter specifically, there is a line that really jumped out at me. When Dennis tries to comfort Ruth, she says, "...but all your 'sorrys' are gone when a person dies. She was gone. Gone. That's why you have to say all your 'sorrys' and "I love yous" while a person is living, because tomorrow isn't promised." This captured my attention because I experience a couple of deaths in my life and lost close relatives and I know how this feels. I guess the real reason why I liked this part so much is because it really hit home.
5/12/2013 01:47:05 pm
Chapter 16 stood out to me not only because of James Mcbrides great writing but also because it reflected the term "double consciousness" that we have spoken about in Greg's class. In chapter 16 Ruth decides she is going to learn how to drive again. While James is in the car with his mother he dazes off and remembers a quote his sister Jack had told him several times, "You have to choose between what the world expects of you and what you want for yourself." That is exactly what I believe it means to have a double consciousness. James and his 11 siblings continuously have to deal with trying to find out who they are despite the fact they are half black and half white. Many feel they have to choose a certain side, black or white, but James ultimately can decide how he wants to view his own ethnicity and who he is as a person.
5/12/2013 01:59:30 pm
I felt like this book really helped me understand how to find or maybe come to terms with one's self. Figuring out who you are doesn't have to happen in one defining moment, it can happen as you sit down and reflect back on what your life has been.
5/12/2013 10:59:56 pm
Yeah I agree with Kristen, and I believe that by recounting Ruth's life and her past James and the reader are able to understand everything much better. For James his mother's past taught him the reason why she is the way she is and helped him shape his identity, and for the reader it was a guide through the story.
5/12/2013 02:11:43 pm
Chapter 23 is my favorite chapter in The Color of Water and also the one that impacted me most. I read the book a few years ago and this was the part of Ruth’s past that I remembered the most. The chapter was charged with Ruth’s powerful and emotional recollections of her deceased husband Dennis. Ruth felt that Dennis filled in the gaps of her soul; she was completely and undoubtedly in love with him as he was with her. It is the reason why his death left her lost and confused and why “part of [her] died when Dennis died.” Ruth’s pain was so prominent that I felt part of her pain too.
5/12/2013 02:33:28 pm
I feel like this book helped me figured out that you discover yourself as time goes by and that race, gender or social status don't define who you are. At the end we are all human beings and we are equal.
5/12/2013 10:41:27 pm
I was reading this book on the subway, which was a horrible idea because I started crying on train during the part when Ruth’s mother dies and the guilt that Ruth feels over her mother’s death. Ruth says, “I’ve always held that [my mother’s passport] to this day, that guilt, that I left Mameh, because all her life I was the one who translated for her and helped her around. I was her eyes and ears in America, and when I left… her reasons for living just slipped away. It was a bad time.” (217) It’s a very raw and visceral scene. Ruth loves her mother a lot and this loss was a tremendous one. However, the strongest thing that was connecting to Ruth to her previous life was her relationship with her mother. Like how Ruth’s mother lost her reason to live when Ruth left, Ruth similarly lost her reason to live as Ruth the Jewish girl. With the strength of Dennis and his belief in Christianity, Ruth let go of her past and religion, but she never completely let go of her pain.
5/12/2013 11:05:27 pm
I prefer the chapters of the moms story rather than the ones of James. I think that James mom has many interesting stories. The fact that she has only been with black men is really interesting since whites and blacks could not be together. When Dennis told his family, "I want y'all to meet a friend of mine," they were all shocked. Dennis was a black man and James mother is a white women. I think this part of the book is important. We get to see how James mother and Dennis acted infront of others and how Dennis' family treated her. Aside from the facial features Dennis' family treated James mother nice and a part of the family which i thought was important. Other families could have acted the complete opposite and kicked her out of the house. But Dennis' family did not.
5/13/2013 12:48:57 am
My favorite chapter from "The Color of Water," is chapter 21. This chapter really gave a good sense of emotion, therefore I as a reader felt as if I was part of the scenario. I can only imagine how much pain Mameh struggled through. Having a person that was very close to you die, really affects how your life becomes afterwards. On page 213, Tateh read the letter (which stated that Mameh had passed away) and said, "Read this to your mother." It was up to Ruth to tell her own mother, that her Ruth's grandmother had passed away. If I was in her postion I would have an anxiety attack and break down, I wouldn't be able to do it. Hurting a person, even though it was not their fault, mentally ruins a majority of things.
5/13/2013 01:33:35 am
On page 171 James McBride's mother describes Harlem as a place where "white and black came to party. There weren't heavy drugs and crime like there is now. It was different. Harlem was like magic." This quote drew my attention because of how his mother described Harlem. She seemed so taken with Harlem and the way she reminisces about her life in Harlem shows how attached she is to this place. You can see how Harlem was her home, the place she felt like she could be herself without being judged. This was the place where she could forget the reality about to issues going on at this time period. The way she describes Harlem is completely different from how we, today, see it as. Its a place where different ethnicities came together to celebrate life at the time where there was no love between the whites and blacks. Today we symbolize Harlem as a black community where there is nothing but trouble.
5/13/2013 11:29:54 am
I feel as if everyone who is made up of two different ethnicities have somewhat of a struggle figuring out which they identify themselves more as or the struggle of trying to figure out the side that is not a strongly shown in their household. On page 232 James mother "Well, I'm a mother of black children , and nobody will ever deny me my children , and they can put that in their Nubian pipe and smoke it. All this Nubian. If you want to go back to Africa to find your roots I won't stop you. I'll still be your mother when you come back. And you'll still be my son." I think that Ruth notices the struggle that her children have being that she somewhat has the conflict being white but living a African American lifestyle. I really respect the mom for noticing that her children needs to explore their ancestry but isn't insecure about losing her children because she knows that they will always be her children.
5/13/2013 01:34:28 pm
Ruth McBride struggled though many obstacles, one in which was religion. When their was know where to turn she turned to Jesus. She believed in Jesus and believed that he's watching Ruth and Ruth's family from above and guiding her through all the aspect in her life. In chapter 23, page 232, Ruth McBride states "There was no turning back after my mother died. I stayed on the black side because that was the only place I could stay." Ruth is trying to exemplify that after the death of her disabled mother and hatred toward her father their was no side to turn but the black side in which she found love for her Christian belief and a beloved husband. She kept strong for her family through Jesus strength, hope, and love.
5/19/2013 11:47:40 am
Throughout the novel I enjoyed reading about Ruth's experience in life and how much she sacrificed to raise her kids. And though many people criticized her she was a strong woman and she did not let that come in her way of raising her kids. In the novel it kind of reveals how some people in the world just like James, begins to discover himself, his race, culture, and identity ,throughout the journey of his life. In all I really enjoyed this novel and it relates to many people in the world.
5/20/2013 04:11:27 am
In the book The Color of Water by James McBride, the quote "See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That's all. The rest you can deal with. It's not about black or white."page 233; Stood out to me because it's true in my opinion, if you love one another nothing really matters. You just need a little bit of money to support one another. James wasn't rich and didn't have lots of money but what counted was the love his mother showed and taught him was all needed to become a better person.
5/22/2013 09:26:35 am
From the quote, “See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That’s all. The rest you can deal with. It’s not about black or white.", in chapter 23, page 233, Ruth explains her first marriage to James. Her being happy is more important than having a good result of a desegregated marriage.
6/2/2013 10:21:31 am
I really liked reading ruth parts in the book because she has been through so much and is such a strong women. The part she starts talking about how her father raped her and would abuse her got me really emotional. I loved reading about ruth because she's so strong and she's been through so much things and if she wasn't so strong, she would of been emotionally and physically hurt because of all the bad things that had happened to her.
6/3/2013 05:12:32 am
"See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That's all. The rest you can deal with. It's not about black or white" (pg 233)
Sabrina K White
9/27/2021 07:45:27 am
I felt like a Tinkertoy kid building my own self out of one of those toy building sets; for as she laid her life before me, I reassembled the tableau of her words like a picture puzzle, and as I did, so my own life was rebuilt.
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