11 September 2012
What factors contribute to who you are today? A question that many struggle with including James McBride, the author of The Color of Water. James struggled with finding himself because of his mixed background, a white Jewish mother and a Black father. When James finally gets an understanding of the culture, races, and religions that surrounds him it helps him to gain his own identity, point of view, and allows him to share his experiences with others who may be going through the same things in his writing. As James enters many different cultures he comes to realize what type of surrounding and life he wants for himself when he visits his sister jack in Louisville, Kentucky. The culture in Louisville was very violent. James and his friends participated in illegal activities such as breaking into cars, shoplifting, and doing illegal drugs (McBride 139). After complaining about life, doing illegal things, talking to Chicken Man a man that sat on the corner on a crate, and drank alcohol all day who told James that no one will know who are you unless you make something of yourself and that sitting on the corner all his life is a bad decision (150), and taking Jack’s advice, “you have to choose between what the world expects of you and what you want for yourself” (161), he enrolls back into high school and later goes on to Oberlin College. Growing up James’ mother Ruth always tells him that white people are no good, but as a young adult his perspective changes altogether. As James completes high school and early into college a white lady by the name of Mrs. Dawson who donated most of her time and money to inner city kids sponsors James to be able to go to Europe and travel with the American Youth Jazz Band and continues to help him get into graduate school. When James’ friends in college talk about how all white people are rich and they have no problems James had no choice, but to agree because of the...