What is McBride's main argument in The Color of Water?I do not understand what it is. At first I thought about racism, but then it goes on about explaining religion and education.

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that McBride's main argument is closely tied to his title, and that while most would associate that title with race, McBride intends for his readers to realize--as he did--that in regards to race, religion, and education, humans cannot think everything is either black or white.  The mature McBride looks back on his life and realizes that if everybody viewed every area of the human existence clearly (the color of water) and neutrally, then we would have far fewer controversies, whether they be connected to race, religion, etc.

In regards to the second part of your question, McBride has to discuss religion and education because they played just as significant a role in his life as his mixed ethnicity did.  While his mother was white, and that certainly created controversy for her and her children, she was also Jewish, and her family would not have approved of her marrying anyone (black or white) who was not Jewish. Similarly, when McBride's mother seeks to get the best education possible for her children, she must combat not only segregation based on race but also differences in religious philosophy with the schools.

arieljasmine | Student

Actually, after my teacher and I discussed this, it turned out the true argument is that what happens in the past will reflect in the future.  As Ruth is growing up her history reflects her son and her future.

mkcapen1 | Student
After reading McBride's tribute to his white mother, in the book The Color of Water, I believe that McBride was arguing that hiding the past is not always the best solution. Because he knew nothing about his mother or her side of the family while growing up he had felt deprived and confused. It made it difficult for him and his siblings to be able to relate to their mother and created problems of their own. McBride always felt like there was a part of him that was missing and to find it, he needed to learn about his mother and her side of the family. His mother had always kept everything bottled up and refused to discuss it. After Mc Bride encouraged her to tell him about her past he visited different people and pieced together his heritage on his mother’s side. The lesson that his mother learned was that she had some people from the past who had been in her life who were worth reuniting with and would have been her friends years earlier if she had sought the friendship.