What Is the Theme of the Book "Push" by Sapphire?

theme-book-push-sapphire Credit: Robert Burdock/CC-BY-2.0

The theme of the book "Push" by Sapphire is overcoming adversity. The book also deals with themes like cycles of abuse, structural violence, identity, the role of education in self expression and self reliance, obesity, and fat oppression. Another implicit theme is recognizing the presence of beauty in adverse situations.

Published in 1996, "Push" is the first novel published by Sapphire, and it gained worldwide recognition in 2009 when it was made into the film "Precious." The novel is written in first person by its protagonist, Claireece Precious Jones.

When the story first begins, Precious writes phonetically, and the entire novel is written in Black English Vernacular. Precious is the victim of physical abuse and rape by her father, and she is emotionally abused by her mother. After having her second child with her father, Precious goes to a special girl's school where she learns to read and write more fluently. At that point, the writing begins to contain more imagery and more advanced vocabulary.

In the novel, the narrator is influenced by the book "The Color Purple," written by Alice Walker. That novel, which was also made into a film, was also written in first person by a young, black narrator who was raped by her father and later learned to read.