The Color of Water


James McBride

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A Jewish mourning tradition. Following a funeral, the person’s immediate family sits and mourns for seven days, either in their home or that of a close relative. Traditions vary by family and denomination, but generally the family does not work or celebrate during this week, they cover all mirrors, and they sit on the ground or on low stools. In this book, Ruth’s family sits shiva symbolically, to demonstrate that she is as good as dead to them.

Shiva Quotes in The Color of Water

The The Color of Water quotes below are all either spoken by Shiva or refer to Shiva. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Chapter 1 Quotes

I was born an Orthodox Jew on April 1, 1921, April Fool’s Day, in Poland. I don’t remember the name of the town where I was born, but I do remember my Jewish name: Ruchel Dwarja Zylska. My parents got rid of that name when we came to America and changed it to Rachel Deborah Shilsky, and I got rid of that name when I was nineteen and never used it again after I left Virginia for good in 1941. Rachel Shilsky is dead as far as I’m concerned. She had to die in order for me, the rest of me, to live.

Related Characters: Ruth McBride-Jordan (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Color of Water PDF

Shiva Term Timeline in The Color of Water

The timeline below shows where the term Shiva appears in The Color of Water. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Dead
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Otherness and Belonging Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Memory and Identity Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
When Ruth married her first husband, Andrew McBride, her family sat shiva and acted as though she had died. In Jewish tradition it takes seven days to... (full context)