The film under study is Precious, a movie is grounded on the novel Push by Sapphire,and the character being analyzedis Precious who is the play’s main character (Sapphire, 1996). GaboureySidibe, a renowned actress, plays the role of Claireece Precious Jones, who is referred to as precious in the movie. The entire movie revolves around Precious who lives with her dysfunctional family. Precious’ mother, Mary does not perform any chores and instead watches T.V, smokes cigarettes and abuses her both physically and mentally all day long. Precious and her family live in the Harlem, a New York Ghetto, and they depend on welfare since her mother is unemployed and her stepfather abandoned them (Sapphire, 1996).
Precious is a 16 year old, black American female who is overweight, a mother of one and pregnant with her father’s second child and is about to be kicked out of school who is seen to often fantasize about being normal. She has a normaloverall lookand she dresses as decently as her financial status permits her (Sapphire, 1996). Precious struggles at school, her academic performance is poor, children mock her because of her overweight condition,and she finds interacting with people challenging. Precious is an object of several psychological distresses and anxieties including rape, incest, child abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse and mental abuse, all of which have contributed to her low self-esteem. Her stepfather molests her constantly and her mother also forces her to have sexual relations with her stepfather, whichhas resulted in her two pregnancies (Sapphire, 1996). Precious suffers from Post Traumatic Stress;Generalized and Social Anxiety; eating disorders specially bulimia nervosa; relational problems; and bipolar disorder. She is also HIV positive (Kakutani, 1996).
Precious has damaging family relationships, she does not have friends, her presence is never recognizedand her schoolmates often mock her. Additionally, she has to live with the trauma of being raped by someone she loved and trusted. As a coping mechanism, Precious escapes from her traumatic real life into her imagination world where she is a movie star or a supermodel and people love and care for her. She also imagines herself in a wonderful romantic relationship with a boyfriend who loves her (Kakutani, 1996). Precious is also strong and resilient and it helps her to get through her life tribulations. Although her fantasies provide her relief, they portray a deeply flawed sense of self worth, as all her escape characters are sexual icons.
Precious has been raped by her step father numerous of times and she now has two children by him. Although the father is absent in the movie, precious has flashbacks of the abuse he subjected her to (Sapphire, 1996). From the flashbacks, it is clear that he treated precious and her mother as possessions and subjected both of them to intimidation and physical might in order to get them to submit. The sexual abuse that her father subjected her to since a young age has resulted to low self-esteem and caused a clash between her perception of affection and sexuality and it is proven by behavior like crying over never having being in a romantic relationship (Kakutani2006).
Precious’ motheris cold and withdrawn and has subjected her to long-term physical, mental and sexual maltreatment. She uses her as a servant, she is always yelling at her, she is often violent towards her and occasionally abuses her sexually (Sapphire, 1996). This has infused anger in their relationship, which has made Precious starved for care and nurture. Her mother’s harshness is mainly because she resents precious for taking her husband from her even thoughit is the father who forces himself on precious against her will. Precious mother does not protect her from her stepfather who rapes her constantly. She even goes ahead to sexually abuse Precious too by forcing Precious to have sexual relations with her stepfather (Kakutani2006).
Other than causing trauma, Precious’ mother is also against her academic progress. When she discovers that Precious accepted the offer to attend the “Each One Teach One” school she is outragedso much that she yells and throwsobjects around the house. When Precious gives birth to her father’s second child,her mother tries to kill her and her new born baby and although she does not succeed, Precious escapes their apartment leaving her homeless (Sapphire, 1996).
The social worker
Precious’ social worker is seen to be more unhelpful than she is helpful. Although the social worker makes an effort to try and help Precious, her efforts are fruitless, harmful even. When the social worker holds a counseling session with both Precious and her mother,she exhibits very poorsocial work practice that couldconceivably have detrimental outcomes (Sapphire, 1996). Although the session is a moment of empowerment for Precious that positive outcome has nothing to do with anything the social worker accomplishes. It takes the social worker a long time to find out about the abuse that precious is being subjected to but when she does she makes an effort of helping her. When she finally does, she partners with the headteacher and helps Precious get into the alternative school, which eventually changes precious life (Kakutani, 1996).
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