The author's purpose in writing this novel is to explore and connect with his own sense of identity. This book is a tribute to the author's mother, but in being that, it is also an autobiography. James McBride's choice to tell his mother's story while he was growing up is also an opportunity to explore his story and to discover his identity through examining his mother's, as well as the experiences that he had in his youth.
The racial tension that exists between black people and white people was always obvious to McBride. He says that he recognized his mother's "contradictions" and the way that she kept herself from having a crisis of identity. These contradictions also intimately affect McBride's life as he grows up as a biracial child, and many of the experiences he shares in the book reflect his attempts to play out an identity crisis of his own.
In The Color of Water by James McBride, the subtitle of the book tells its purpose. The full title is The Color of Water: A Black Man’s...
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