The Color of Water

by: James McBride

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

You know death was always around Suffolk, always around. It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off.

Here Ruth discusses her upbringing in Suffolk, Virginia in the 1920s and 1930s, when racial tensions reached a fever pitch. She captures a particular quality of the South in this statement—the covert nature of death and hate that lay beneath sugarcoated Southern manners. This disgust at the South and at the Southern way of hiding menace with smiles remains with Ruth, who stills refuses to set foot in the South except for brief visits.