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James's childhood was spent in a chaotic household of twelve children who had neither the time nor the chance to ponder questions of race and identity. While working with his father he watched the young white boys play outside and never show any sign of acknowledgment of his father.He felt that the this work was degrading and subservient and resented the way his stepfather was being treated and looked upon by his employers.
The Color of Water has a theme that is similar to many.
It has the perspective that all races are equal Philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Whether individuals are silly or wise, studying incidents from their history provides them valuable lessons.
Another example is, “The New Testament” and “The Old Testament.” Both of these chapters revolve around the embarrassment Ruth and James feel for their circumstances.
In “The New Testament,” Mc Bride feels ashamed of having an eccentric white mother, who when singing the hymns in church sounds “like a cross between cold engine trying to crack on an October morning and a Maytag washer” (Mc Bride 45).
Throughout the novel, Mc Bride searches for identity and a sense of belonging that derives from his multiracial family.
By using two different narrations, Mc Bride gradually establishes his identity and by integrating both narratives at the end, Mc Bride also shows that although both narrators at the beginning had different upbringings, in the end they came together, and understood each other’s perspective.
During this time period Jewish people were looked down upon and ostracized; on top of that, Ruth also had a handicapped mother that attracted more attention, causing more mortification for her.
Consequently, these parallelisms here act as a kind of foreshadowing device as well as help Mc Bride acknowledge more about his mother’s life and learn the fact that even though they come from divergent cultures, they both encountered situations where they had to overcome similar obstacles.
When Richie, one of James' brothers, is teasing him by saying that James is adopted, James acknowledges a tugging thought inside his head... Why attention span went no farther than the five kids trailing her,” Mc Bride subsequently wrote “My mom had absolutely no interest in a world that seemed incredulously agitated by our presence.
The remarks and stares that we heard as we walked about the world went right over our head.” Her indomitable spirit and her son’s recollections became the basis of “The Color of Water”.