I felt like a Tinkertoy kid building my own self out of one of those toy building sets; for as she laid her life before me, I reassembled the tableau of her words like a picture puzzle, and as I did, so my own life was rebuilt.
Explanation for Quotation 1 >>
This quote, from near the end of the book, comes from James's description of the gap between how he imagined it would be to write this memoir, and how it actually felt to write the memoir. He says here that his own life is inextricably bound up with his mother's; when he rethinks her life, he necessarily rethinks his own. This sentiment echoes one of the main themes of the book: to understand the present, one must be familiar with ...view middle of the document...
He may be closer to it than he is at any other point in the book.
Mameh's sisters were more about money than anything else, and any hurts that popped up along the way, they just swept them under the rug. They were all trying hard to be American, you know, not knowing what to keep and what to leave behind.
Explanation for Quotation 3 >>
Here Ruth explains how she views her aunts' philosophies on life, and their emphasis on wealth. She makes the astute observation that their ethos may have been the result of the pressures of immigration and Americanization. Mameh's sisters, like Ruth and James after them, were attempting to juggle past and present and somehow reconcile the new with the old.
I thought it would be easier if we were just one color, black or white. I didn't want to be white. My siblings had already instilled the notion of black pride in me. I would have preferred that Mommy were black. Now, as a grown man, I feel privileged to have come from two worlds.
Explanation for Quotation 4 >>
Here James muses on the particular difficulty of being biracial. He says that he underwent a complete attitude transformation during the transition from...