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James Mc Bride's The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute To His White Mother

1341 words - 6 pages

Philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Whether individuals are silly or wise, studying incidents from their history provides them valuable lessons. By unrolling their memories, people can draw wisdom from prior errors and safeguard their futures. James McBride typifies this notion when he weaves his mother Ruth’s old times and his new world in his memoir The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother. Via James’s quest for his mother's heritage as a struggling biracial kid, McBride portrays the strength of Ruth who endures social and economic hardships raising twelve biracial children. Despite Ruth’s reticence on her painful upbringing, the author discloses that her past guides her present behavior and strengthens her to overcome challenges of building her children’s future.
Fundamentally, Ruth’s Jewish immigrant heritage builds her essential beliefs that self sufficiency and education lead to her kids’ success. Ruth recalls her working in her father Tateh’s store during her childhood in Suffolk, “We worked there from morning till night, except for school, and Tateh had us timed for that” (McBride 41). Ruth’s Jewish immigrant parents discipline Ruth with an unyielding work ethic by running their family business on her free time and completing her homework between customers. . Therefore, Ruth develops self sufficiency. Consequently, this part of history holds profound influence on Ruth’s parenting skill since she knows no other ways for raising her children besides her own upbringing from her Jewish family. Ruth cannot entirely dismiss her history, instead, she instills the value of independence and discipline in her kids. Moreover, Ruth embraces education, the core value of Jewish culture, as a path to success. Ruth points out that in her schooldays, Tateh’s paying for her private lessons leaves a lasting impression on her. Ruth comments, “He was tight with his money, but when it came to that kind of thing, he wasn’t cheap” (McBride 80). Although Tateh’s store barely supports his family with their meager income, yet this doesn’t deter Tateh’s quest for excellence in Ruth’s study. He resolves to pay expensive private lessons for Ruth to learn useful skills such as bookkeeping. Naturally, Ruth follows the same attitude to seek the best education for her children. To illustrate, “[Ruth’s kids] were traveling miles and miles to largely white, Jewish communities to attend schools” because the schools offer high quality programs. (McBride 89). Although Ruth struggles to make a living, she painstakingly grasps the narrow window of opportunities to enroll her kids in the best schools from different districts. She sets high standard, demands them to keep good grades, and builds foundation for their future success. McBride reveals that Ruth persistently applies the value of education and self sufficiency from her youth in her children’s upbringing to provide them a promised...

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