The Color of Water

Constructing an Identity: James McBride and Richard Wright 11th Grade

The world is full of predispositions that favor the majority and hinder minorities. James McBride’s memoir, The Color of Water, and Richard Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy, both address the disadvantages that minorities face. In these narratives, Ruth McBride, James McBride, and Richard Wright are all surrounded by ignorant people who pressure them to conform to stereotypes. However, these individuals are able to combat the ignorance and construct their own identities using the power of education and knowledge. Through the growth of the characters in Black Boy and The Color of Water, it is evident that education is the key to self-discovery.

Ruth McBride is an immigrant from Poland, and she faces the pressure to conform to both her parents’ traditional ideologies and the standards of the American South. Ruth is considered an outcast by other whites in Suffolk, Virginia, because of her Jewish heritage. As a result, she is better able to identify with the African-Americans in her town, and she enters into a relationship with a black boy named Peter. Unfortunately, due to her own family’s racism as well as the popularity of the KKK, Ruth is forced to see Peter in secret. Ruth becomes pregnant with Peter’s child, and because such...

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