The Color of Water

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The Color of Water

Introductory Note

1. What framework does the author give the story?
* The author gives the story from two different perspectives one from the mother’s perspective, Ruth, and the other from the son’s perspective, James. 2. What is the ethnic background of the author?

* The ethnic background of the author is Caucasian and African-American. Chapter 1: Dead

1. Why is this chapter written in italics?
* This chapter was written in Italics because it was written from a different point of view which was Ruth’s perspective who talks about her past as a child. 2. Why is the mother reluctant to talk about her family?

* Ruth is reluctant to talk about her family because she felt that was the past and she just didn’t feel like opening up about something she felt “dead” about. 3. What do we learn about the mother’s birth?

* What we learn about Ruth’s birth was that she was born as an Orthodox Jew on April first, during the Holocaust. 4. What was her name?
* Ruth’s original birth name was Rachel Dwajra Zylska.
5. Does she use the name of Rachel as an adult?
* Rachel doesn’t decide to use “Rachel” as her name. She decides to rename herself as “Ruth”. 6. Why might Rachel’s family have mourned her when she married? * Rachel’s family mourned her when she married, because back then a Jewish woman was expected to marry another Jewish man. Also, Rachel’s father was very racist and prejudice against African-Americans. Yet she ended up marrying one. 7. How does she describe her father?

* Rachel describes her father, Fishel Shilsky, as a very “macho” man. As in no one used to mess with him since he used to be in a Russian army but ended up escaping and married Rachel’s mother. 8. How does she describe her mother?

* Rachel describes her mother, Hudis, as exactly opposite of her father. She was very pretty, sweet, polite, caring person.

Chapter 2: The Bicycle

1. Why is the bicycle an embarrassment to the author, and where did it come from? * The bicycle was an embarrassment because James felt it was already bad enough his mother was Caucasian. So he felt worse that she had an “out-of-age “bicycle. 2. How is the stepfather described?

* James’ stepfather was described as a quiet, soft-spoken man who wore old-timey clothes. He died when he was seventy-two. He was firm, strong, and seemingly infallible. 3. What were the circumstances of the marriage between the author’s mother and stepfather? * The circumstances of the marriage between Ruth and Hunter were that she had already had eight kids and he didn’t care and actually added four of his own. He once joked “I got enough for a baseball team.” 4. How did Daddy die, and what was the effect on the author? * Hunter died from a stroke and ended up effecting James in his school. He went from straight A’s to straight F’s. He ended up dropping out and started to steal, drink, and do drugs. 5. How did the mother grieve after her second husband died? * Ruth grieved about Hunter by riding her ancient bicycle and letting out what felt by riding it up and down the streets of Queens. 6. What made Mommy such a striking woman, and how did the author feel about her appearance? * What made Ruth such a striking woman was because she was the only Caucasian in the neighborhood, plus she was slender, pretty, she had curly brown hair, dark eyes, a big nose, a sparkling smile, and a bowlegged walk. James was ashamed of her when he was younger because he felt she was making a fool of herself. 7. How does the author describe the marriage of his mother and stepfather? * James describes the marriage of his mother and stepfather very happy filled with many wonderful joyous memories. 8. How does the author describe life in the household?

* James describes life in the household as a “first come, first served” or “kill or be killed” type of situation. 9. What did Mommy do to...
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