The community in the Color of Water, by James McBride, is defined as the family. While it is a negative force during Ruth's childhood, the community becomes a positive force during Ruth's adulthood. The community is a negative force in Ruth's childhood because nobody in her family loved her. Ruth's father molested her repeatedly when she was a child.

Her mother just sat idly by like a ghost while all of this took place. Her family disowned her because she married a black man, and then when she thought things couldn't get worse her parents got divorced. Ruth ran away and married a black man. Ruth expresses her right of individuality when she runs away and marries a black man. Through Ruth running away she was able to be alive again. For example it said in the Color of Water, "Rachel Shilsky is dead as far as I'm concerned, She had to die in order for me, the rest me, to live." The men she married were men of principle, and men of god.

They helped create a strong foundation full of love, respect, and individuality for James McBride and his siblings. Throughout the book the author James McBride, is searching for the individual in which he wishes to become. He is blinded by the complex emotions of not knowing where he fits into the society. I believe that the individual that you become is based on the society surrounding you. I don't think the book is really about individualism, but it is about the individual that you become. All the characters in this book experienced individualism, but each character develops very different ways of showing their individuality An illustration of the individual aspects is how James always seemed to be in the wrong crowds (community).

When James was young he was part of a gang. As he got older things only got worse when he started hanging out with a bunch of drunks on the corner of a Kentucky liquor store. Not until the end of the book did James find a society that would help define who he is, or who he would become. He realizes that education is the society that would best help him grow throughout his life..