The Color of Water

Table of Content

Diction is usually described as “having a great effect on the tone of a piece of literature, and how readers perceive the characters.” This is shown in many memoirs to develop the purpose of writing their events to readers. The Color of Water by James McBride is a memoir about his own life and the life of his dedicated mother Ruth. As a boy in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Projects during a racist period, James grew up with his 11 siblings and mother since his father and stepfather passed away. James’ mother, Ruth was a lighter color than his whole family so he always knew she was different. His whole life consisted of finding out about his mother’s past since she did not talk about it. James McBride wrote this memoir for all people, the purpose being to inform the reader it was a challenge to live in a racist period as a mixed kid with identity struggles. Successfully conveying this using simile, dialogue, and the rhetorical appeal of pathos. When the author uses the literary devices of similes, dialogue, and pathos he informs the readers of why he wrote this story.

The author uses an example of a simile on page 262 when he says. “Being mixed is like that tingling you have in your nose just before you sneeze…You’re waiting for it to happen but it never does.” This example of a simile from the memoir gives you a sense of how James felt. Since most humans have experienced this. When you feel like you have to sneeze you get a discomfort just like the discomfort of how James feels of being a mixed child growing up. In chapter 6 the dialogue between Ruth and James states. “I asked her whether God was Black or White” Ruth replies by saying “God is the color of water, Water doesn’t have a color”. This dialogue not only explains the Title but helps explain the base of the story. James asks her what color God conveys his mystery of race as a child. When Ruth says God is the color of water she’s explaining that God does not see the color or race of someone. He sees everyone as an equal, explaining to James that it doesn’t matter if he’s darker than his mother he is still loved. The author uses an example of pathos on page 139 when he states..“ Just like Mommy did years before me, I began my process of running, emotionally disconnecting myself from her, as if by doing so I could keep her suffering from touching me”. Pathos is a rhetorical device that appeals to the emotions of the reader.

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In this piece of pathos, James is connecting himself to how his mother felt. Gives the reader a feeling of sadness because it truly conveys what James had to go through. All because of his mother’s running away from her identity, James couldn’t get find out his full identity either. Making his struggle with his childhood, constructing the events that are told in this story.

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The Color of Water. (2022, May 15). Retrieved from

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