Book Summary: In the Color of Water

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In The Color of Water, by James McBride, Ruth McBride had a difficult childhood. During her early life, Ruth’s father, Tateh, did not treat her and her family well. Tateh’s constant harsh behavior towards Ruth and her family wore on her greatly. Eventually, she refused to accept where she came from and wanted to ignore her education. Ruth felt like there was a better life awaiting her in the future, away from Tateh. Ruth's father, Tateh’s harsh behavior of his family influences her identity to become an independent person.

Ruth became an independent person once she decides to cut ties from Tateh’s dominating behavior. As Ruth was growing up, she lived under a strict roof with a controlling father, Tateh. Ruth had no say in any decisions in her family, and she would have to do what she was told at all times. She was in complete control, and she wanted to get away from it. Throughout Ruth's childhood, her father Tateh made her work at his store. “We had no family life. That store was our life. We worked in there from morning till night, except for school, and Tateh had us timed for that” (McBride 41). Being controlled by her father made her feel like her life is not how it should be. She wants to get away from these rules badly, causing her to become rebellious, and then eventually her departure of the family. Tateh was also very harsh to Ruth's mother, Mameh. When Ruth was in New York, she got a call from Tateh, telling her that Mameh is sick and he needs help with the store. As Ruth returns back to Suffolk Virginia to see her sick mother, she sees that Tateh continues to treat her badly. She is what would be called an “abused woman”. Tateh felt as if he was in control of a crippled Mameh. “He can yell at her, make fun of her, curse her, slapped her. He can even go out with another woman right in front of her face” (McBride 197). Mameh’s life as a sick cripple was already bad enough, never mind the abuse from Tateh along with it. Ruth seeing Mameh treated...
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