The memoirs of James McBride are presented from two points of view, his
and his mother’s. Which story do you prefer? Explain why.
Between 1860 and 1900 approximately 14 million immigrants, primarily from
Europe, settled in the Northeast and Midwest. The Shilskys arrived 1923
and settled in Virginia. What were the conditions for immigrants there?
What was the state of racial relations?
how Ruth’s relationship developed with Dennis McBride.
Give examples from the text of how African Americans and immigrants were
stereotyped by members of their own groups. How did Ruth’s family treat
new immigrants? Who were the “greenborns”? Was there an African
American counterpart during slavery?
The abject poverty of James McBride’s family is discussed in the book.
How id Ruth manage the economics of the family? What good business
strategies did she use? Would they work today?
Incest is often hidden by families. What is the psychological impact of
this denial on the victim? Presently, what do we know about eh coping
mechanisms that victims develop?
Describe the procedure Ruth Shilsky McBride used to get her children into
some of the best schools in New York. What happened to the children’s
education when the family moved to Delaware? What was Ruth’s educational
How important was personal identity for James? Was race, ethnicity, or
religion important to other McBride children?
how Ruth demonstrated a “double-consciousness” at her high school
graduation. Did one culture dominate the event?
Discuss the interfaith perspective of the memoirs, including a Jewish
woman who co- founds a Black Baptist church.