Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 13, 2023
December 6, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
The author alternates between his own first person voice and his mother's own words.
Straightforward narrative tone
For the most part, the book takes place in the past tense, as it recounts the past lives of James and Ruth. McBride uses the present tense when he talks about his current life, activities, and beliefs.
James McBride tells the story of Ruth's life, which begins in the 1920s. He places emphasis on the 1930s, 40s and 50s. James's memoir covers the 1960s through the 1990s. It takes place in Suffolk, Virginia; New York City; Louisville, Kentucky; Oberlin, Ohio; and Wilmington, Delaware.
Ruth's relationship with her boyfriend Peter foreshadowed her later kinship with black people, and her marriages to black men. James's early love of music and writing foreshadowed his later adoption of those two enthusiasms in a professional context.
James's struggle to come to terms with his racial identity and background
Ruth's separation from her parents. Ruth's marriage to Dennis. James's confrontation with race relations in society in the 1960s.
A series of small climaxes in which Ruth and her son James confront issues of racial identity and difference
Ruth's conversion to Christianity; James's search for racial identity
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Color of Water!