The Color Of Water

Marriage and Love

“See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That’s all. The rest you can deal with. It’s not about black or white” -Ruth


Everyone was always focused on the color of someone's skin. It was hard to make people realize that what is on the inside is what matters. If you are happy and you have love and God, your set. You have to overcome the fear of being different and become accepting to new things. You need to stop being afraid of what you think will happen and do what you believe is correct!

James family and what how they were brought up

"Mameh's sisters were more about money than anything else, and any hurts that popped up along the way, they just swept them under the rug. They were all trying hard to be American, you know, not knowing what to keep and what to leave behind." -Ruth



Ruth observed her aunts lifestyle and what they did in order to make it in America. She saw the struggle people had with money and power. It was hard for her ancestors to be accepted and that made her afraid and question what she was doing with her life. People followed whatever the "popular" and "powerful rich" adults said in their time. It was a struggle for people to forget their past and to move on to the present. Ruth had to figure out what she was willing to do in order to move on in her present day life. It took her some time and went through some rough patches but she made it.

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Hands showing people working together and not hating

"You know death was always around Suffolk, always around. It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off." -Ruth


Ruth describes her childhood and how she was brought up. As she grew older, so did the racial tension. She has witnessed verbal abuse, physical abuse, and just about everything she could as a child. Ruth was very traumatized and scarred from her childhood. It took a lot of strength mentally to be able to move on and build a whole new life in a new place. It takes a lot to leave your home even if it is not the greatest place on earth. Going out into the real world, alone, is a big deal and Ruth managed to pull it off.

We are all the same

“I asked her if I was black or white. She replied "You are a human being. Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody!”


Ruth was all for equality. All of her family was African American so she obviously was sticking up for the cause with the right mindset. She said if you do not know if your black or white then to educate yourself and figure it out. It was rough for Ruth to be the only white person in her family. She stuck out. It was not normal for a white women to have kids with and African american so she got judged for that. She was extremely brave and strong to take all the negative comments and to continue living her life the way she wanted to. It is inspiring.

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It's okay to stand out

“She wipes her memory instantly and with purpose; it’s a way of preserving herself”


This shows how Ruth did not talk or think about her past and she feels that by doing that it helps her lives her life in the present. Ruth overcomes her horrific childhood and decides to keep pushing through. She catches every ball god throws at her and makes the best out of everything. It makes her a happier person. When she realizes that blocking out the bad in her past would help her present she reached a turning point in her life. She did not mind sticking out from others. She was always the one with a unique opinion.

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“Writer or musician, not knowing that it was possible.”

In this quote it shows that James realizes that he can achieve anything. He over came all the doubt and hate that was around him. Lots of people told him he couldn't because of race but his mom was always right about how important education is.

This picture is meant to symbolize intelligence

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“But at the end of the day, there are some questions that have no answers, and then one answer that has no question: love rules the game. Every time. All the time. That’s what counts.”

James is discussing how important he thinks love is. There were 12 children so they didn’t get all get a lot of attention with their mom. James cherished every moment he has alone with Ruth because there weren’t a lot of those moments. When Ruth was a child she didn’t get much love and now she was passing along that because she didn’t show much affection either. James wished there would have been love because that is what he thought mattered but eventually he overcame this and learned to accept and be thankful for his mother the way she was, this whole book was a tribute to her. She showed tough love and this made him into a stronger man and in the long term anything she did helped him and now he can persevere as an adult.

Refers to their biracial family and how all love is equal

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“My own humanity was awakened, rising up to greet me with a handshake as I watched the first glimmers of sunlight peek over the horizon. There's such a big difference between being dead and alive, I told myself, and the greatest gift that anyone can live to anyone is life. And the greatest sin a person can do to another is to take away that life. Next to that, all the rules and religions in the world are secondary; mere words and beliefs that people choose to believe and kill and hate by. My life won't be lived that way, and neither, I hope, will my children's.”

The best gift in life is your life it self. You have to make hard decisions but at the end of the day it is your happiness is what matters most. James liked music and writing so he began to spend more time in those activities. He didn't want to live his life consumed by hate and fear, he wants to be free and make the choices he wants so he began to mature and increased his responsibility so he could succeed in the future and live the successful he wanted to live.


Expresses the freedom James desired

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"I thought it would be easier if we were just one color, black or white. I didn't want to be white. My siblings had already instilled the notion of black pride in me. I would have preferred that Mommy were black. Now, as a grown man, I feel privileged to have come from two worlds."
When James was younger he was embarrassed that he had a white mother and was apart of a biracial family. He was able to overcome and come to terms with his racial identity. In this quote is explaining how he is now proud of who he is and embraces his biracial family.

Indicates family

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"I felt like a Tinkertoy kid building my own self out of one of those toy building sets; for as she laid her life before me, I reassembled the tableau of her words like a picture puzzle, and as I did, so my own life was rebuilt."
By writing this book James was trying to overcome his past. He wanted to find a better understanding of his of his identity by rethinking the past and trying to grasp a better understanding of the present. This describes James' imagination and mind . He is is comparing Ruth's life and his life being one.

Personifies James' imagination

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