The Color of Water

A discussion of the use of symbolism in James Mc Bride’s The Color of Water.

This paper discusses the various uses of symbolism and analogies in McBrides novel. It was written as a tribute to the author’s mother who was White and Jewish, but who could never confess this. The author’s father was a black minister. The paper looks at the use of color to represent identity, race and belonging. Other symbols are mentioned and analyzed.
There are many symbols McBride uses in The Color of Water to indicate his mother, his life, and the life around him in Brooklyn and Queens. One of the first symbols in the book is the ancient bicycle his mother rides after his stepfather dies. His mother never learned to drive, and the bicycle, and her constant riding of it up and down the streets symbolizes her distance from her neighbors and their culture. His mother is a white woman in a black world, who will not admit she is white. McBride always thought his mother was odd, and this symbol of the bicycle helps prove it.