Color of Water

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3. Several of the McBride children became involved in the civil rights movement. Do you think that this was a result of the times in which they lived, their need to belong to a group that lent them a solid identity, or a combination of these factors?

I think several of the McBride children became involved in the civil rights movement mostly because of their need to belong to a group that lent them solid identity. They need guides to help them “find” their true self. But I think because the Civil Rights Movement they were more inclined to join. I figured they thought that since I look like these people, “I belong with them” and I should stand for what they stand for.

4. "Our house was a combination three-ring circus and zoo, complete with ongoing action, daring feats, music, and animals." Does Helen leave to escape her chaotic homelife or to escape the mother whose very appearance confuses her about who she is?

I think Helen left to escape her mother. She was confused and angry. I believe she felt that she didn’t belong with her mother, that maybe that wasn’t her real mother. I remember at the end of chapter eight, Ruth found where she was residing and asked for her come back home and Helen just looked at her once through the peep hole and then shut it and ignored her until she went away.

6. "Mommy's contradictions crashed and slammed against one another like bumper cars at Coney Island. White folks, she felt, were implicitly evil toward blacks, yet she forced us to go to white schools to get the best education. Blacks could be trusted more, but anything involving blacks was probably substandard... She was against welfare and never applied for it despite our need, but championed those who availed themselves of it." Do you think these contradictions served to confuse Ruth's children further, or did they somehow contribute to the balanced view of humanity that James McBride possesses?

I thoroughly believe that Ruth’s contradictions served to...
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