The Color of Water

Compare and contrast Ruth's experiences with racism/anti-semitism and James' experiences with racism


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Ruth's initial experiences of a white Jew living in a black area were different than James's later experiences. Although Ruth might have felt antisemitism, the racism wasn't overt. Certainly James had to contend with being bi-racial as well. Ruth tries to counter the divisiveness of race through the book. When James asks his mother whether God is black or white, he is a boy living in a predominantly black community with a mother who looks white, and is simply expressing his personal confusion about race. To add to the confusion, however, his mother simply responds that she is "light-skinned". When his mother explains that God doesn't have a color, and that God is "the color of water", the image converges questions of racial and religious division into an essence that is clear and universally spiritual - in other words, "human".