The Color of Water


Ruth's side of the family

  • James: the narrator, her son
  • Ruchel Dwajra Zylska aka Rachel Deborah Shilsky aka Ruth McBride Jordan: mother of 12 children and the second narrator
  • Hudis Shilsky aka Mameh: Ruth's mother. Despite being crippled on the left side of her body, still managed to be a loyal wife and good mother.
  • Fishel Shilsky aka Tateh: Ruth's father. Tateh was a terrible husband in many aspects such as fidelity and love. Fidhel also happened to be a rabbi, who would get in bed with his daughters. He even mocked his own wife, Mameh, in public for being a cripple.
  • Gladys "Dee-dee" Shilsky: Ruth's sister. It is revealed that Dee-dee was the only sibling of Ruth's that was born in America. Often, Ruth would say that she was jealous of her because she didn't have to deal with the negative stigma towards Jews like Ruth did.
  • Sam Shilsky: Ruth's brother. He ran away from home at 15, no longer wanting to deal with Tateh. Ruth says that he died while fighting in the Second World War.

James' side of the family

  • Andrew 'Dennis' McBride: the biological father of James, Ruth's first husband, a very caring father and pastor. Died of lung cancer.
  • Hunter Jordan: stepfather, Ruth's second husband, died after having a relapse of a stroke
  • From eldest to youngest (excluding James, who is the eighth child): Dennis, Rosetta, Billy, David, Helen, Richard, Dotty, Kathy, Judy, Hunter, and Henry: James' 11 siblings (Jacqueline "Jack": Andrew's daughter from a previous marriage)
  • Nash and Etta: his grandparents
  • Henry, Walter, and Garland: uncles
  • Clemy: cousin from down south
  • Z and Maya: his nieces
  • Becky: sister-in-law
  • Karen aka Karone, Leander Bien, and Laurie Wesman: ex-girlfriends
  • Stephanie: current wife
  • Linwood Bob Hinson: cousin from North Carolina
  • Azure, and Jordan: James' children

Other people

  • Frances Moody: Ruth's very close childhood friend; only schoolmate who befriended Ruth; a Gentile
  • Peter: Ruth's first boyfriend. He also got her pregnant and Ruth later dumped him after she found out that he had gotten another girl pregnant.
  • Billy Smith: James' best friend
  • Big Richard: Jack's husband and James' friend[1]
  • Mrs. Ingram: Ruth's best friend as an adult
  • Israel Levy: old Jewish friend of Ruth's who allowed her father (rabbi) a permanent place
  • Rocky: the manager of the Barber Shop
  • C. Lawler Rogers and Hal Schiff: music teachers
  • David H. and Ann Fox Dawson: donors who helped James go to Europe concerning his aspiration for being a musician

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