Mr. Miller's English 10 Lit Circles Wiki

The Color of Water by James McBride

Brianna Nicole Danielle Peter

Remember no last names - first name, last initial ~Mr. Miller

Timeline [ James McBride ]
1. His first day of school, he and his mother were at the bus stop with other kids, and he noticed that his mother was different from the other moms.
2. The question "What color is God?" comes up.
3. James went to camp and when he was leaving, he noticed his mom was trying warn his mom she was standing next to a Black Panther.
4. James' mom tell him God has no color, god is the color of water.
5. James' sister, Helen runs away for
Timeline [ Ruth McBride ]

We think that this book will end well. Many different topics will be addressed including racism.

Use the following headings to help you keep track of the required elements:

You made a good connection using a quote connecting racism to the story. However, you could have related the story to other themes such as the search for identity or family. Even though racism might have been the more obvious choice, you very well could have connected the story with other less obvious choices. For example, if I chose to connect The Color of Water with the search for identity, I would use a quote from the book and most likley state that so far James is confused with his identity or is having an identity crisis. (<<Zack K. Period 6)

I think you did a good job explaining how racism has appeared in the book so far. One thing i disagree on though is what james's true feelings are for his mom. I believe that he loves his mom and respects her and i think the whole first part of the book is about his awesome relationship with his mom. I think the quote you took was just his reactions to his environment because he just didnt want to be different than other people. I think that not wanting to be different is a feeling that everyone gets when they are a kid/teen. I agree with you on the part that there is probably going to be a problem between the kids and the mom later on though. Adam, period 4

I think that you did a great job of explaining the quotes that you used and made good connections. I think that the mother is very strong because she is in a black neighborhood all alone and is doing a good job of raising her 12 children. Do you think that the peoplel in the neighborhood will change and may start to not accept james' family living there ? and what might happen? ( Jessicakjobjjiohgjb))))0

I think your connection was very good. I like the connections you made to the quotes you chose. I also agree with you about the fact that you have great respect for his mother. She seems to have ahd a tough life but doesnt really get down on herself. It must be hard raising 12 black children in a predominantly black area. She seems to have a lot of respect for herself. I also think that it is hard for James and his siblings have to be brought up by just his mother. You are correct when you say James wants a "normal" life. Every teenager wants a normal life. [<Hayley N-p.6>]

Jordan Responds:
I think that everyone in this group brings up great points about issues in the story. As i have read on i think that Religon is going to play a big part in James' life because i don't know if he knew that his mother was jewish when he was younger. I also think that it must have been tough for Racheal (the mother) to go through being a white mother in a primarily black neighborhood. Not only did she live most of her adult life there, yet she also went through a difficult childhood. Although she wan't looked at as she was in the neighborhood that she lived in with her family, yet she always felt a bit different from the others in her family. For one thing, she "didn't know what love was until she turned Catholic". Being from an all Jewish family you wouln't expect for her to feel so strongly against that religon, but she clearly states in the novel that when her husband introduced the religon to her she loved it. I think that it is important for her to believe in what she wants to believe in and i give her a lot of credit for going against everything that her family believed in to be happy for herself. I believe that her father, and what he did to her as a child had a lot to do with why she didn't care so much about 'disapointing' her family in a way. I'm enjoying this book so far as well.

Some comments from Mr. Miller. You all do a nice job posting your ideas. I noticed that you all pointed out the presence of racism in the book. The name of this unit is alienation and isolation. How does race play into how people might feel isolated or alienated? In what ways does James's heritage affect his sense of identity? What does he learn from his mother's similar struggles? (feel free to delete these comments after everyone has had a chance to see and consider them)

What do you think are some of Rachel/Ruth's strengths of her character? What does she pass on to her children? How is that shown? ~Mr. Miller

Make this a heading for summaries of what was discussed on discussion days

Discussion day one
We talked about how the mother was possibly starting to cave in under all the pressure. She has 12 children and many of them are dropping out of school/not succeeding. We also talked about how the mother is able to take in all the critism from the other black neighbors. Whenever she walks out of the saftey of her house she was called names and being made fun of. We were wondering how she could take all of that critism, and still run her very large family.
We also talked about the title. James asked his mother what color god was when they were in church and his mother answered him, "god has not color, he is a spirit, spirits have no color, god is the color of water."

Discussion day two
Discussion day three

Make this a heading for An ongoing list of questions/reactions/responses related to the daily reading

Make this a heading for evidence from text that is related to various themes in the book


One of the conflicts that I came across in this book was when James's mother got preganant and could not tell anyone, including her family, about it. I think that this is very sad that such a happy ocasion had to be kept such a secret. If the secret was let out into the open it could be a life or death situation. I can just imagine how much of a toll the news had to be taking on her. She not only had to deal with the pregnancy alone but the whole family stress as well. In a time as stressfull as this she should have her family behind her 100%. She doesnt have her family's help through this and also has to deal with not only getting pregnant, but getting pregnant with a black person's child. Back then black peopel and white people were NOT suposed to date let alone start having children together. She knew that if her father found out about her and he black lover he would be hanged or shot for sure. I feel very sorry for all the stresses that she had to go through at this time (*~Brianna Morris~*) 4th posting

The most predominant theme so far would be racism. The mother along with her children living at home go through different acts of racism everyday. James is trying to avoid going places with his mom now because he is afraid of the remarks that might be said to him or her while they are out. He also doesn't want to be embarrassed by his mother out in public were one of the kids from school can see him. The mother is trying to protect her children from the racism outside of the house. James has older brother's and sister's that are always preaching about,"Black Power" and all about how bad the white man is. On page 101 James' mother say,"Come and let's walk to the store". He replied,"I can go by myself". "The intent was to hide my white mom and go it alone". I think he did this to try to show that he is more mature so he can do older things and as well as to hide his mom from being seen with him. (<<Peter M. 4th Posting)

" The question of race was like the power of the moon in my house." on page 94.
I felt that this quote was very meaningfull. The power of the moon is very strong and by comparing it to the question of race means that the children are very aware of what race they are. I think that this is very unfortunate. Children should not have to grow up being self consious. (*~Brianna Morris~* blog 6)

"I silently agreed, because I didn't want my friends seeing my white mother out there riding a bicycle. She was already white, that was bad enough, but to go out and ride an old bike that went out of style a hundred year ago?"
This quote stood out to me because it shows some of his true feelings about his mom. This relates to the racism theme, the son see the racism and difference between the fact his mom is white in a black neighborhood. Also this quote goes along with the family theme. It's not clear yet but there is probably going to be a big conflict between the mom and the kids. (<<Danielle B.)

So far I've been reading "The Color of Water". I can see there is going to be an issue of racism in this book. The book even starts off with James' mom talking about how being jewish was different and then how James' goes into his own life story and he talks about how his mother is white and his father is black and that they live in a black populated area so he can see the difference between his mother, and the other other mother's. Like the scene at the bus stop. As James' and his mother await for the bus to take him to school he asks his mother why she does not look like his friend's mothers. I think the book will also have a focus on the topic of the search for identity because James' has a lot of brother's and sisters (12 in fact) and because the book focuses on him, I think it will show his journey to find his own person and his place in his family. (<<Nicole T.)

The theme that sticks out the most to me is racism. I know that I mentioned this in my last blog but as I read more through the book this theme became more clear. At one point in the book Jame's points out that his mother was in danger and is always in danger because shes a white lady in a black neighbor hood. This was after James and his mother were mugged on the way home from her friends house. The racism is so ovious that James and his brothers and sisters are able to notice. They see how she is treated different, acts around other people in the neighbor hood and looks different then all of the other parents. How she isolates herself from everyone who isn't part of the faimly.
~Danielle~ Blog 4

So far the biggest theme that has come up in the book is Racism. Through out the book James brings up many different times were he has been treated badly because of his race. He metions problems at school with name calling and problems in his own neighbor hood. He would be given problems when going into a store. The color of their skin, their race, is a real big thing around their house. " The question of race was like the power of the moon in my house." on page 94. Also in the book the author mentions the reactions that james remebers seeing on other peoples faces. "Some who were truly kind, genuine, and sensitive, others who could not hide their distaste for my black face." on page 87
~Danielle~ Blog 6


" My father did things to me when I was a young girl that I couldn't tell anyone about. Such as getting in bed with me at night and doings things to me sexually that could not tell anyone about." chose that quote because I think it shows how James' mom became a strong woman that she is. The post it was on page 42. Because this happen to her I think it's what made her a stronger woman. Sure she will never be the same but because she's been through so much if it doesn't break you, it makes you stronger. I also chose a passage on page 51 " God is the color of water. Water doesn't have a color." James' mother said this because James' started to ask his mother what color god was, if he was white or black. Now I understand what the title of the book stands for. I'm starting guess this is going to turn into some religious book. (<<Nicole T. 3rd posting)

" The question of race was like the power of the moon in my house. It's what made the river flow, the ocean swell, and the tide rise, but it was a silent power, intractable, indomitable, indisputable, and thus completely ignorable." (pg 94) I choose this quote because It sums up how thw family feels about religion and how it is treated in the family. Through out the book most of the promblems that have accured are either baseds on or surrounded by religion. He would be teased in school with names like "baby jew". Also the mother, in the chapter "Shul", talks about how hard it was to make friends in school and that she had changed her name to sound less jewish so she could make more friends. She had changed her name from Rachel to Ruth. This may not be the biggest theme in the book but for some reason this theme has stuck out the most to me so far in the second half of the book. ~Danielle~ Blog 5


"I would sneak onto the balcony at night and cry to myself, i would never think about killing myself, no never that. But sometimes i would look over the black community and look for a new boyfriend." page 113
I think that this quote explains the entire book very compleatly. Years ago white folks were considered "dominant". This was believed by almost all white people and some blacks also! i do not beleive this and do not see haw anyone could. Back then a black man would be hung if he even looked at a white wonen a certain way. If any white men found out that he was dating a white women he would be killed for sure. And then he got jame' s mother pregnant. She knew the consequences probubly better then he did. She knew that her father had a loaded shot gun in his cash register and would not care if her waster a bullet on him.. or her fore that matter. Because she got pregnant and oviously decided to keep and raise the baby i think that it shows how strong of a women she is. (*~Brianna Morris~*)(3rd posting)

"When I was a boy I used to wonder where my mother came from, how she got here." page 21
This quote stood out to me because James has grown up in a mainly black community and when he was a child he did not know why his mother was not like all the other mother's, black. Growing up he did not understand why his mother was white but now hw does. But even as a more mature teen he is embarased of her. "I didn't want my friends to see my white mother out there riding her bicycle." This quote also is expressing James's feelings about his mother. He was embarased of her. But in a way i greatly respect his mom. She raises a huge family of 13 (12 kids), and she is white. The color of your skin makes no difference to me but when there is a single white mother riding around a mainly black city on a huge old bike it takes real guts. James was a child that realy just wanted a normal family, a normal life. But when he finds out that his family will never be "normal" he tries to just find a place in his family for him to belong. (*~Brianna M~*)

I agree with your passage. I too think Rachel is a very strong mother. She had a hard childhood and I think that's what made her strong. Some of her father's habits did however rub off on her and you can see it when she displays it with her kids. But that's how things were back in the day. But she is a very strong woman and I have a great deal of respect for a woman who went through what she did and still raises kids, 12 at that, of her own and still ended up living a decent life. I don't think that the people in James' neighborhood will change their ways or feelings towards the McBride's but I think that's going to be an escalate in the story, maybe James' isn't going to want to live in his neighborhood because he's not excepted because of his race and he will try to move out of the ghetto. (<<Nicole p.1)

One of the themes that we have been discussing about with our group is family. In this book the family puts alot of pressure on the children in the decisions that they make. James's mother had lots of pressure being out on her when she found out that she was pregnant with a black man's child. She knew that her father would kill her boyfriend and probubly her as well. Family is a support system that should be behind you in any decisions that you make (logical ones). In this book clearly there are some problems. James has a huge family of 12 children. Just because there are alot of children in a famliy does not mean that it has to be disfunctional but in my opinion this one is. Many of the kids in the family are not getting good grades, and running away and not returning. I think that if the parents took better care of their children there would not be these problems. (*~Brianna~*)(5th posting)

Make this a heading for list of vocabulary words from the book

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