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"The Color Of Water". Essay

1148 words - 5 pages

The Color of Water (A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother)The English language only has one word for love. However, there are multiple types of love, with the strongest being the love you possess for your family. This love is not a strong devotion, lust for another, or love of God, instead, it is the inborn feeling that all people hold for their family members. The degree of love is the one and only measuring point of the strength of a family. There is no better example of this than the McBride/Jordan family in James McBride's memoir The Color of Water. Every one of the children had a different skin color, half of them had a different father, and they were all interested in completely different things, yet their family had a love that was beyond compare. McBride thoroughly shows that a family can not be judged by color, wealth, or any other outside circumstance, and that it is simply the degree of love that makes up a family.The stereotypical American family is prosperous, and suburban with the mother and father happily married, and with two or three kids. Yet this is exactly what the two main families in James McBride's autobiographical The Color of Water are not. The McBrides/Jordans and the Shilskys are two extraordinarily unique families. However, the one element that binds the biracial, Brooklyn-dwelling McBrides/Jordans and the Polish immigrant, Jewish Shilskys together is James McBride's mother, Ruth. The characteristics and basic principles of these families differ in almost every way. Each family model is held together by its own system of values, relationships, and unwritten rules.A white family of five and a fatherless family of 12 mixed children with a white mother are presented at a contest; all the contestant has to do is to select the better example of a true family to win the prize. Which one would he select? The contestant would almost certainly select the white family of five. For years it seems that society has taught that a true family is supposed to be composed of a working father, a loving mother that tends the house, and children who are diligent with their studies and chores; any deviation from this plan could label the family "dysfunctional." Yet, what if the white family of five was the family of Rabbi Shilsky? For indeed, in every way that the McBride/Jordan family succeeded, the Shilsky family failed. The Shilsky family owned their own store, and was fairly successful in a town that lacked extreme wealth. However, their family had very little love, and that in turn annulled their supreme wealth. McBride makes a wonderful commentary on family life by using these two examples throughout the memoir. In a sense, he shows that just as how a house must be built on a strongfoundation, so is a family. A family built without a strong degree of love will most definitely fall. Some families may appear to have everything, but without great family love they actually have nothing.At first glance the McBride/Jordan family seems...

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