In fact, the novel Push largely concerns a vast range of services provided in the humanistic society by such institutions as welfare offices, schools, hospitals, counseling, recovery meetings, etc. The author raises an issue of treatment and protection of black women and children of impoverished backgrounds greatly suffering from abuse and molestation. In general, the primary aim of the welfare system is to assist poor families and individuals who have a little or completely no income. Most countries provide such people with cash aid, free medical treatment, housing, or child care assistance.
We come across the welfare system when Precious is taken away. Her mother Mary is disappointed, because the welfare office removes Clarisse from her wardship. Moreover, it will not bring her money any longer. In fact, Mary could not imagine her life without the cash aid, because she had never worked and had not a clue how to earn money.
One more outstanding example of welfare system functions is shown in the story of Rhonda, who had to leave home because of misjudgment of her mother. Having experienced life in a shelter, Rhonda starts to collect papers to get on welfare, but it appears to be very difficult: “They are so nasty to me, send me to so many different places to get so many different papers, things I don’t have way of getting! I don’t have a birth certificate unless my mother got it…” (Chap. 4)
The child welfare system is also widely represented in the novel. As a matter of fact, this social institution was established to provide a special kind of protection and care to deprived children who are not safe at home or suffer from poverty or abuse. In this story, we can observe the scene when the representative of the child welfare office attends Precious’s house. The main aim of this visit is to check the conditions in which children grow up and provide, if necessary, these families with a particular kind of assistance to meet basic demands.
From the very beginning of the novel, we become acquainted with a low level of the educational system. In fact, Precious is already 16, but she is still illiterate. “I had got left back in the second grade too because I couldn’t read. I should be in the eleventh grade, getting ready to go into the twelfth grade, so I can go on the graduate. But I’m not. I’m in the ninth grade” (Chap.1, p.1). Nonetheless, Precious wants to learn, to sit at the first desk and get a diploma someday. She always helps the math teacher to keep the class quiet and yelled at him only on the first day of school, because he told her to open the book on page 122. “I didn’t want to hurt him or embarrass him like that you know. But I couldn’t let him, anybody, know, page 122 look like page 152, 22, 3, 6, 5- all the pages look alike to me” (Chap. 1, p. 5).
The Precious’s life completely changes when she starts attending the Higher Education Alternative, which is a peculiar type of school for troublesome children. Ms. Rain was the teacher of the class, which consisted of seven more girls, who experienced different kinds of moral and physical abuse. At the beginning of the studies at the alternative school, Precious passes the G.E.D. test with TABE score of 2.8 points. During the short period in this institution, Precious learns more than for the last six years, and, after passing the TABE test again, she gets 7.8.
In addition, the author calls attention to such kind of social help as counseling and recovery meetings. Despite the fact that Precious does not trust Ms. Weiss, her counselor, the discussion helps the girl to evaluate properly and understand the terrible attitude of her parents towards her. The next step to the recovery is participating in different meetings, such as an HIV support group called “Body Positive” and group for insect survivors, where Precious can empathize and share her own feelings with victims of rape.
The novel is full of different unexpected events, crucial moments, and constructive dialogs, through which, the author’s thoughts are represented. Sapphire criticizes, to a certain respect, every sphere of the public life, especially, functioning of social institutions. From the very beginning, we come across the ineffectiveness of the welfare system, which fails to help a little girl, who has been abused and molested for so long time. I presume it was inacceptable for the representative of the child welfare office to neglect the fact that the 16-years old girl is pregnant and omit question about the father of the baby. After the birth of her second child Abdul, Precious often ponders on her feelings towards Carl, her father and cruel offender, ruthless rapist and the father of her beloved child. She reflects on her abuse and asks why anybody did not protect her, why Carl was not put in jail after her first child was born? Through this inner monologue, we can observe Sapphire’s disapprove of carelessness and inaction of this social system.
The author is deeply worried about the quality of education. She depicts the decline of educational level with such lines: “I have gotten no education even though I had not missed a day of school” (Chap. 2, p. 57). Notwithstanding the fact that Precious was completely illiterate, she managed to enter the ninth grade. Sapphire supports the idea of establishing alternative schools for deprived or disabled youth because these children are really in need of special attention and different approach to teaching.
In addition, there is a great variety of recovery meetings described in the novel. I believe that these meetings and counseling played a significant role in the formation of girl’s personality. The author emphasizes the effectiveness and importance of such intimate discussions in small groups, because participating in such kind of activities usually helps people to overcome their fear and pain.
Clarisse Precious Jones is the main character of the novel. She became the victim of incest in her early childhood and was completely confused about her own life. Deprived of love and support, Precious finally finds bosom friends who help, cheer up, and take care of her. Now, she does not feel alone. Being only 16, she has already experienced many terrifying things and still continues coping with them. She has just born a second child, a healthy boy Abdul, but, at the same time, she is diagnosed with HIV. She has only found a new home and real friends, but she understands that her life is limited by the disease. Her group mates and Ms. Rain in particular help Precious believe in herself and in happy future with her dear children. Blue (Ms. Rain) prompts her to participate in different kinds of social groups. Precious meets a great amount of people of different ages, race, and social status, whose stories make Precious stronger and ready to overcome any obstacles.
The title of the book is printed on a red cover. The big bold letters are black. To my mind, regardless the simplicity of the design, it has a symbolic meaning. I think that the black color embodies the main heroine, Precious, who grew up in abuse, squalor, and indifference. The red color of background may symbolize the pain, horror, fear, and confusion the girl came through. However, I believe, the cover of the book could be more expressive if it had an image or a snapshot from a movie on it. As for me, the cover would convey more feelings if it had a picture of Precious and her two children passing through the crowd. If I was a designer, I would make the background crowd blurred and in black and white, and put the main heroin with children in the front. The features of her face should express all hardships she had to come through. Notwithstanding all bitterness and misfortunes she experienced at the hands of her neglectful, cruel, and abusive parents, her eyes must be full of irresistible hope for the promising future. As for the clothes, I guess, she should wear something dowdy or even a little bit scruffy, which symbolizes her unbearable social status. The background crowd must consist of busy, self-important, well-heeled people, who are in a hurry and do not notice Precious, who seems invisible to them. I believe that such cover would, doubtlessly, generate a considerable interest of the avid readers.