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Push is novel that was written by sapphire in the 1990s that entails a story of hardships endured by a black, illiterate, fat, angry, and poor young woman named Precious. The background of the novel is in Harlem, and the writer describes the environment that Precious grew up in that contributed to hardships she faced. As young as three, Precious is raped by his father in front of her mother and forced to grow up at a very tender age. This novel is emotionally powerful and disturbing, especially when describing experiences of girls in Higher Alternative school. It is clearly evident that most of these immoral acts are contributed by the influence of the people in Harlem. For instance, incest is not considered an immoral act that is why Precious’s father, Carl rapes her repeatedly. According to Sapphire, Harlem is not just a place, but a culture that has dominated people of this town.
To begin with, push primarily focuses on sexual abuse as prevalent theme in the lives of many, especially girls in Higher Alternative school. By this, it implies that Harlem’s culture tolerate sexual abuse, and immoralities such as incest. Sexual abuse is not the only problem facing young girls in Higher Alternative school. However, it is the only thing that brought them together with the aim of rebuilding their lives. As young as they are, their backgrounds are filled with disturbing sexual abuse experiences that makes Harlem a wicked city. Ignorance is also another fact we should not forget that contributed to hardships endured by Precious. Personally, Precious is ignorant, and this can be traced from her upbringing where is exposed to uneducated people. Mary, her mother has made life difficult for her daughter due to her ignorance nature. She ignores that her daughter is sexually abused, and even says that her daughter is stealing her husband from her. She also assumes that their life is comfortable, and protests when Precious gets a chance to be admitted in Higher Alternative school.
In this book, the author has used Precious as the main character, and uses her experiences to represent difficulties faced by others. It is pretty obvious that girls are deprived their right, and authorities has nothing to say. The environment is also unsafe for African-American, and this is seen in school when Precious is always ridiculed by other girls. Apart from the environment she is brought up in, Precious has issues with self-esteem, and hates the fact that she was born African-American. Precious is made to think that Harlem is not a safe place for people of her race. This is because she of the abuse she faces from her parents; therefore, she expects the world to be harsher than her parents since the world believes black people are immigrants who have no rights. According to the author’s point of view, illiteracy is the cause of these immoralities. Unlike at home, Precious is appreciated and encouraged in school to take control of her life. For instance, Precious’s mother thinks that it is okay if her husband abuses Precious sexually as long as she still fulfills her conjugal rights.
To be frank, Precious has never had chance to live a comfortable life, and when she begins building her life she is impregnated by her father for the second time. She has tried many things to stop her father from abusing her, but her efforts are in vain. For example, she changes her name from Claireece to Precious. She also adds weight so as to be unattractive in her father, but he still abuses her. Having been out of school for the second time due to pregnancy, Precious discovers that she is also HIV positive. By this, she says that she has no reason to continue living; however, she says that if she knew how to end her life she would have done it when she was first molested at the age of three. In regards to what Precious has gone through, her only goal in life is to survive. She thinks that all difficulties she faces are too much to bear, and only wishes to survive them and maybe begin a new life.
Racial discrimination is part of Harlem’s culture, and can be seen by the hatred Precious has for the white race. However, it appears that white people are the ones that come to her rescue, and play a positive role in her life. Precious is always preoccupied with sexual scenes when in class and this contributes a lot to his failure. However, things changes and turn around when she decides that she has control over her life, and that she is the only one responsible for shaping her future. According to Precious as the narrator, Harlem is a poor, dirty and the blackest area of the city. Drug dealers, prostitutes, crack heads are the people situated at Harlem. By this, it is obvious that adopting these behaviors is nothing much since it is part of Harlem’s culture. It is also seen that women are responsible for supporting their family, and on the other hand, men impregnate their wives and disappear, neglecting their responsibilities.
In conclusion, it is evident that Harlem is full of inhuman practices yet the authorities do nothing to stop immoralities. However, Precious’s effort of taking control of her life proves that all these can be changed if only people are empowered, and occupied with positive attitude. In this case, precious is an example of real transformation, and an encouragement to others through the hardships she faced as a young black woman.