Raw. Chilling. Courageous. These three thoughts and emotions arose throughout my reading of Push by Sapphire. The story narrated in first person by Claireece Precious Jones can be thoroughly described by the three aforementioned words, just in how it was written alone. The blunt descriptions and phrases, as well as the abundance of grammatical errors all as portrayed through the eyes of Precious added to the theme of realism throughout the novel. The tragic experiences of Precious were laid down in a grim manner- this helped with the raw effect of the story itself. This novel pinpoints an entire girl’s girlhood experience through her own eyes and the positive things she made of it despite the horrible environment that she had endured.
When talking about girlhood in the Women’s Studies class, many aspects of this were explored throughout the assigned readings and videos. Push depicted one girl’s point of view and explored her actual girlhood at its very worst. The novel went straight into the detailed descriptions of the rape and incest that Precious endured as a young girl, as well as uncovering her thoughts on her experiences throughout the novel. She goes on later in the novel to say that what her unsupportive mother and father think and do doesn’t matter to anymore, and doesn’t affect the great progress she made by the end of the novel.
Precious wrote crudely as the protagonist, however this adds to the aforementioned concept of realism that the book portrayed. Precious noted her thoughts in real time, as the events in her life were unfolding, and as a reader it was easy to almost visualize these thoughts forming inside of her head. She uses harsh words, “Only motherf**kers I hate call me Claireece” (Sapphire 12). However, she displays innocence in her thoughts, such as when she was talking about getting pregnant for the second time. She’s talking about knowing how to get pregnant, going on to say, “I didn’t know how long it take, what’s happening inside, nothing, I didn’t know nothing” (Sapphire 12). Although Precious comes off tough-using crude language and threatening to hit the social worker at her old school- she is not old and wise. There are many things that are normal for a girl in her adolescence to not be aware of that Precious is not aware of in this novel. This bout of innocence displays a real-life aspect of what girls do experience in girlhood. It is a very realistic depiction of any girls’ thoughts about topics such as sex and pregnancy.
Throughout the book, Precious gave the reader her own thoughts of hope for herself and her dreams. She expressed a liking for school, especially math class. One of the main parts of the novel, possibly the climax, was when Precious went by herself to check out the alternative school. The fact that she went in the first place showed that she was passionate about her future and expected herself to build a future on her own. Having endured getting pregnant by her own father as well as beatings from her mother and a not-so-great childhood, this decision to want to attend alternative school showed great passion from Precious. Some girls come from this type of environment, some are lucky enough to come from somewhere better. Precious represented strength for all girls that come from anywhere similar to the type of horrible environment that she had to live with every day. To me, this was the “happiest” part of the novel. Precious says, “I’m alive inside. A bird is in my heart. Mama and Daddy is not win. I’m winning” (Sapphire 131).
Precious learns she has H.I.V. later on in the book. She has two babies and a mother who doesn’t support or believe in her. She still continues her learning and life lessons at the alternative school. Precious becomes a better writer, a better communicator, and more at peace with herself. It’s hard for me to imagine a life where I’d half to take on even half of what she had to deal with, and still wanting to learn and make something of her life. Precious in every way depicts real girls in the truest form. She describes her experiences not in a positive or a negative light, but in the truest light possible. Real girls are in this situation today; real girls have to endure bigger problems than boys and clothes.
Precious’s story showed that strength has to come from within. Her story says to any girl reading that no matter what the circumstances in one’s life, anything is possible if that’s what you set your mind to. Sapphire told a story that may be based on true events, but that is not what’s important. Although the story may not have a particularly happy ending, the story as a whole sheds a positive light on a girl who made the most of her terrible situation. Precious said, “I want to live so bad” (Sapphire 137). She sure did, and deserves to hold her head up high.