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The character ruth in the color of water by james mcbride

She lives in New York, is beautiful and wealthy, and generally snobby toward Ruth, although she helps Ruth when she needs an abortion. She refuses to help Ruth after she marries a black man. She employs the young Ruth when she moves to New York but treats her harshly. It is at the factory she meets Dennis McBride, who is also employed by her aunt.

Aunt Mary is another family member who shuns Ruth after her marriage to a black man. Big Richard is a tough but easy-going guy who introduces James to all the working black men on "the corner" in Louisville, Kentucky, where James goes in the summers. Bubeh Bubeh is Ruth's maternal grandmother, who lives in New York. She is one of the few Shilskys who cares about Ruth.

The Color of Water: Character Profiles

Bubeh lets Ruth stay with her in New York and acts proud of her. While Bubeh tries to insist on the traditional Jewish ways, she also gives Ruth freedom and love.

A street philosopher, he imparts his wisdom to James, encouraging him to avoid a dead-end to his life by hanging out on the street. James is looking for father figures after his stepfather dies. Frances Frances is a Gentile and Ruth's only childhood friend in Suffolk.

Frances is sweet and accepting of Ruth, even though she is from a Christian family. Ruth's few good memories of Suffolk revolve around this friendship. Frances is loyal, and they reconnect as friends in old age, when James begins research for the memoir. Jack Jack or Jaqueline is James's older stepsister, who is much loved by Ruth and her children.

James lives with Jack in Louisville, Kentucky, for three summers during his teenage years. James regards her as sweet and fun, but she is also serious: Jack's opinion matters to James, and eventually he heeds her advice to return to school. Hunter treats him as his own son. He meets Ruth shortly after her first husband's death, marries her, cares for her eight children and has four more children with her. Like Dennis, he is conservative and old-fashioned.

He shares Ruth's ideas of the importance of God, family, and education. He dies of a stroke when James is a teenager, causing the family to fall apart for a few years. A Polish Jewish immigrant, she gives up her own tradition to embrace the world of her beloved black husband, Dennis McBride. Dennis is her inspiration to lead a spiritual life, to become Christian, and to put her family first.

Ruth is intelligent, determined, and never looks back. She teaches her children the importance of work, school, and God. Born in Poland in 1921, she comes to America with her Jewish immigrant family. Her father is a rabbi, and the family travels from town to town trying to make a living. When they settle down in Suffolk, Virginia, her father opens a general store. They live above the store, located in the mostly black section of town.

Ruth's father, Tateh, is a racist, and overcharges his black customers. Ruth sympathizes with the black people in her town. She hates the violent atmosphere. She herself is the subject of racial prejudice in the white South.

She has eight children with Dennis, who dies while Ruth is pregnant with her son James. The family lives in Harlem and later Brooklyn in the housing projects. Ruth is forced into poorly paid jobs and knows only black people, and essentially lives the life of a black woman. After Dennis dies, she marries another black man, Hunter Jordan, and has four more children with him.

Dennis is a violinist from North Carolina whom Ruth met while working at her aunt's leather factory. He is gentle, cultured, and strong. He becomes a minister and Ruth shares his religious passion, starting a church with him.

He fathers eight of Ruth's twelve children. He the character ruth in the color of water by james mcbride from lung cancer at the age of forty-five. Although Dennis dies while Ruth is pregnant with James, he is the main force in the lives of both James and Ruth. She is never sorry for any hardship as his wife because they truly love one another. Helen is a strong-willed and pretty girl who runs away from home at the age of fifteen. She has a conflict with her white mother and whites in general during the politically charged 1960s.

What are You Studying?

She eventually returns home with a nursing degree and a baby. James is a writer, journalist, jazz musician, and composer. After a lot of questioning about his place as a half-blood, he learns to trust religious faith, family unity, and humane values. He writes the memoir to discover himself.

By delving into his mother's past, which she had hidden from her children, as well as his own past, he hopes to find a better understanding of his racial identity. Questions about race consume him in childhood and early adolescence. He asks his mother, but she tries to keep him focused on religion and education. The changes of the 1960s make it hard for him to embrace the idea of black power when his mother is white.

He becomes embarrassed by his mother's whiteness. As he grows up, he begins to admire his mother as he researches her past as a journalist. Peter Peter is Ruth's first black boyfriend in Suffolk, Virginia. Ruth was attracted to him because she was starved for love and affection, but such a liaison was life-threatening in Virginia. They see each other secretly and when Ruth becomes pregnant, she wants to marry Peter. He convinces her that he would be lynched if anyone found out.

When she returns and finds Peter engaged to a black girl, she is furious because she still loves him. He hires Ruth as a manicurist but turns out to be a pimp who is looking to train her as a prostitute.

  • The father is particularly hard on the sensitive boy, expecting him to work full time at the family store while attending school;
  • He becomes a minister and Ruth shares his religious passion, starting a church with him;
  • Born in Poland in 1921, she comes to America with her Jewish immigrant family.

Dennis saves her from going down that road. Rabbi Fishel Shilsky Fishel Shilsky is Ruth's father, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who has a hard time making a living at it in America, so he becomes a merchant with a general store and sells his goods to the black community whom he cheats. He is particularly cruel to the elder son, Sam, working him day and night in the store. He despises his handicapped wife and treats her with contempt though she is a good wife to him.

He sexually abuses his daughter Ruth. He tells Ruth never to return home if she marries a black man. Fishel has an affair with another woman, a non-Jew, in front of his wife, and later gets a divorce and moves away with the woman and her children. Dee-Dee is a shy, pretty girl, less strong-willed than Ruth. She has fewer conflicts with her father than Ruth does, and she is more Americanized from a young age.

While Ruth always envies her, later in life she realizes that Dee-Dee had suffered the most. Dee-Dee begs Ruth in tears not to leave home, and Ruth promises but then breaks her promise, leaving the young fifteen-year-old Dee-Dee alone and unprotected. Dee-Dee never forgives Ruth and will not see her when they are grown up. She is obedient to her husband, kind and loving. Not speaking English, she depends on Ruth to translate for her.

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When Ruth leaves to live her own life in New York, the mother, desperately ill, quickly dies. Hudis is kind to the black patrons of the store, and Ruth felt that her mother was good to her.

She does not feel forgiven until she becomes a Christian. Sam Shilsky Sam is Ruth's brother, two years older than Ruth. The father is particularly hard on the sensitive boy, expecting him to work full time at the family store while attending school. Sam runs away from home and writes his mother from Chicago. He is killed in the army during World War II.