Ambivalent, Dynamic and Changing Times: The Construction of Racial and Personal Identity in James McBride’s The Color of Water


The Color of Water, a memoir by James McBride, is a complex and nuanced account of the author’s life as an African American and his relationship with his white mother. Using Bhabha’s theories of hybridity, ambivalence, and a Third Space between cultures, this essay illustrates that racial and personal identities are historical constructions that change through time as flexible and mobile entities. The intertwining of narratives and voices over multiple decades depicts the Third Space in McBride’s relationship with his mother, as well as each individual’s relationship to a larger multiracial community. McBride’s developing perspective of multiracial identity in America is also investigated using Lacan’s theories of rhetoric and meaning.

Author (s) Details

Yuan-Chin Chang
Department of Applied English Studies, China University of Technology, No. 56, Sec. 3, Xinglong Rd., Wunshan District, Taipei City 116, Taiwan.

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