The Color of Water


James McBride

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An antiquated, often-offensive term for a person of mixed race, generally someone with one white and one black parent. Although this term was originally descriptive, it is now usually considered a slur. The archetype of the “tragic mulatto” is a fictional character that is unable to live a full happy life because he or she feels torn between two worlds and two races.
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Mulatto Term Timeline in The Color of Water

The timeline below shows where the term Mulatto appears in The Color of Water. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10: School
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Otherness and Belonging Theme Icon
Memory and Identity Theme Icon
...looks up to, or his black role models and relatives. James learns the term “Tragic mulatto” in a book and asks Ruth about it. She becomes upset and refuses to answer... (full context)