The Color of Water


James McBride

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Gladys “Dee-Dee” Shilsky Character Analysis

Ruth’s younger sister. The smartest of her siblings and the best performing in school, Ruth believed Dee-Dee to be their father’s favorite. Of all her siblings, Dee-Dee was the only one born in the United States. She was emotionally closed off, but opened up to Ruth to ask her to stay in Suffolk with the family instead of returning to New York City, a promise Ruth broke, destroying her relationship with Dee-Dee forever.
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Gladys “Dee-Dee” Shilsky Character Timeline in The Color of Water

The timeline below shows where the character Gladys “Dee-Dee” Shilsky appears in The Color of Water. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: Sam
Family Theme Icon in her family’s store, sailors come in and try to flirt with her and Dee-Dee. Mameh doesn’t approve, and tells Ruth, in Yiddish, to make the sailors leave. (full context)
Chapter 19: The Promise
Family Theme Icon
Ruth worries about how Dee-Dee, who is only fifteen, is being affected by the problems in their family. No one,... (full context)
Chapter 20: Old Man Shilsky
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...He tells James his mother’s old name, Rachel, and tells him about his disabled grandmother, Dee-Dee, and Sam. The man is hesitant to talk about Old Man Shilsky at first, but... (full context)
Chapter 22: A Jew Discovered
Family Theme Icon
...records, as well as the graveyard where his grandmother, Mameh, is buried. He’s discovered that Dee-Dee dropped out of high school right before Mameh died, and though he suspects he could... (full context)
Chapter 23: Dennis
Family Theme Icon
...for help. Aunt Betsy slams the door on her, and when she calls her sister Dee-Dee she just reminds Ruth that she asked her to stay, and Ruth broke her promise. (full context)