Self-Image and Independence

Through Precious’s character, Sapphire reveals the transformation of a human’s self-image; as Precious develops a positive view of herself, she gains independence. At the novel’s beginning, Precious sees herself as a Whitney Houston or Madonna on the inside covered up by her exterior, which she perceives as forgettable and invisible. As she walks down the street, she feels as if others cannot see her or that they are making fun of her. During times such as these, Precious flashes back to experiences in her life that caused to her to feel worthless; she then thinks that if she were light skinned or skinnier that people would love her and truly see who she is. As Precious learns to read, write, and think about the world differently, she realizes that she is her own unique person. This process is not without self-doubt however. Near the novel’s end, when Precious discovers that she is HIV positive, she thinks:

I am not Janet Jackson or Madonna on the inside. I always thought that I was someone different on the inside. That I was just fat and ugly to people on the OUTSIDE.

Even with those doubts, Precious is able to realize that she is someone special, that others love her, and that she can provide for Abdul without relying on her mother and grandmother. This realization creates an independent self-image, which reveals to Precious her own beauty through her independence and through her son.

Broken Government Systems

Push demonstrates the futility and abuse of many government systems. Precious’s mother abuses welfare programs by claiming Precious and her daughter, Mongo, to get more money; however, Mongo does not even live with Mama and Precious. Although the grandmother does not abuse Precious as Mama does, she allows Mama to use her, Precious, and Mongo for financial and selfish gain. When...

(The entire section is 765 words.)