The Color of Water

by James McBride
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In The Color of Water by James McBride, what does James value (find important) in his life? Include quotations from the book to support ideas. This should list three examples of what he values.

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Three things that James McBride values are his mother, his siblings, and learning the truth about his biracial identity. The entire book, as the subtitle indicates, is a tribute to his mother.

One place where McBride reveals how much he values his mother is in a part of her narrative that he includes. While she and his father were married, she never traveled to North Carolina, because they feared the family would be attacked. After his death, she takes his body home to be buried. She later tells James,

I sat on that train and said to myself, “I’m gonna take him home. I will take him home to see him buried,” and no white man nor black man would have stopped me and I swear to God Almighty, had anyone stood before me to prevent it I would have struck them down.

McBride was one of twelve children. Although the siblings competed, they also supported each other. One place where he shows that he values his siblings is when they come to meet him after school when he has been waiting for his mother to appear. The children he sees coming

were a motley crew of girls and boys, ragged with wild hairdos and unkempt jackets, hooting and making noise, and only when they were almost upon me did I recognize the faces of my elder siblings and my little sister . . . . I ran into their arms and collapsed in tears as they gathered around me, laughing.

After McBride publishes his first, well-received essay about his mother, he considers the idea of doing a book. While he wants to tell his mother’s story, he also centers on the ways it will help him understand his own identity.

I decided to delve further, partly to get out of working for a living and partly to expel some of my own demons regarding my brown skin, curly hair, and divided soul.

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