Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

The Presentation of Literature in Push (Among other novels we have read in this class)

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We have skirted around this issue since the first day of class. I feel that in our time together we have focused more on what’s at stake for feminism and feminist thought in the books we have read than what is at stake for literature when reading these books. At the beginning of Push, Precious asserts her claim as to why she decides to take the action of writing down her circumstances:

“Sure you can do anything when you talking or writing, it’s not like living when you can only do what you are doing. Some people tell a story ‘n it don’t make no sense of be true. But I’m gonna try to make sense and tell the truth, else what’s the fucking use? Ain’ enough lies and shit out there already?” (3-4)

Although literature and writing are powerful ways to engage others to view social problems and at times even take action to resolve these problems, it is in my opinion that Precious problematizes classifying literature through creating a standard in which literature is valued based solely on its efforts to solve social problems. She places the “lies and shit” label on literature that exists outside the realm of social and political activism. Now I am not saying that activism through literature should be devalued or halted altogether. But I can’t help to think that Precious (or perhaps Sapphire?) is pushing the reader to take on a certain perspective when reading this novel.

Before I finish my rant, I would like to note that I have not finished the book so I am unsure of how Precious’ stance on literature develops throughout the course of the novel. So if you have read ahead and are aware of placing where this has occurred, feel free to cite these instances in the comments.


One thought on “The Presentation of Literature in Push (Among other novels we have read in this class)

  1. It’s important to note that Precious only espouses these views about fiction at the very beginning of the novel, when she is extremely ignorant and says a lot of other horrible things that I don’t think Sapphire believes or wants her readers to believe. She also goes on to (I think) enjoy The Color Purple not only as a social text that helps her, but as an entertaining uplifting novel.

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