Claireece Precious Jones

Precious is the title character and is sixteen when the novel begins. The story follows her stream of consciousness, jumping from the present to the past. Her thinking and language reflect not only the way she has been raised by her mom but also how she has been treated and passed along within the school system. Even though she has been held back two years and is a ninth grader when she should be a junior, Precious likes school, especially math. Math makes her feel that she can learn, and school serves as an escape from her dismal life with her abusive mother. The book follows her journey to an alternative school (in which she thrives), to the birth of her second child, to her courageously leaving her mother’s house and striking out on her own to provide for her child. Precious is remarkably optimistic and indefatigable. Despite her struggles with incestuous rape, maternal abuse, illiteracy, and HIV, she maintains a positive outlook not only for her infant son but also for herself. She is determined to provide for and nurture her son in a way she never knew from her own mother. As Precious’s life story progresses, she becomes more reflective, eloquent, and self-aware.


Precious’s mother is an abusive, selfish woman. She uses Precious not only to receive government assistance but also to fetch, cook, and clean for her and, most significantly, to keep her lover Carl coming back to the apartment. Mama is willing to sacrifice her only child’s innocence to hold on to Carl. She allows Carl to molest and eventually rape Precious, and she sexually and physically abuses Precious herself. Later when Mama visits Precious two times at the teen mother house, her conversations in both instances reveal not only her ability to deny responsibility for anything that happened to Precious but also her lack of education. She believes that she had a right to Carl and never admits to any wrongdoing.


Carl is Mama’s long-time boyfriend and Precious’s father. He abuses Precious from when she is very young and continues as she gets older. The father of Precious’s two children, Carl never faces legal...

(The entire section is 902 words.)