Pre-AP American Literature
16 June 2010
Part I: Critical Reception
In a critical essay, “Pushed to Survival”, about Sapphire’s Push, Paula L. Woods explores the impact that the novel will leave on the readers. One of her first comments was, “The opening line of Sapphire’s first novel hits the reader like a Mack truck, and it clearly signals that the literary ride ahead won’t be in your father’s Oldsmobile” (Woods 86) I find this interesting because Woods explains how right from the first sentence you’re captivated, you don’t have time to get bored and to me that’s a very important detail that many books lack. Woods later in her criticism adds, “…Sapphire gives the fictional Precious something that surveys and case studies do not-a mind, heart and a ferocious rage to survive that ignite the book and make it strangely compelling for all of the horror Precious relieves in the telling” (Woods 87) This comment is very interesting because it describes how the book has life, and how it’s not like any other book, and that’s what many readers like I love about it. Woods also includes, “Astute readers will dram parallels between Precious’s emerging identity and language skills and those of Celie in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple” (Woods 88) In my opinion this quote is important because Push is being compared to a very powerful and well known book that changed and impacted many lives. The Color Purple like Push is trying to open the eyes of their readers and let them see the bigger picture behind the story that is actually being told.
Rosemary Mahoney explains the connection between the reader and the main character, Precious, in the critical essay “Don’t nobody want me. Don’t anybody need me” about Sapphire’s Push. Mahoney has many powerful comments but one that stud out the most to me was, “Push is a novel about acceptance, perseverance, self-discovery and the ways in which the three are intertwined; Sapphire has managed to work into her short book a number of divisive social issues: homosexuality, class prejudice, racism, welfare, misogyny, imperialism, drug abuse-issue”(Mahoney 86). In my opinion it’s amazing how Sapphire incorporate all of these important issues that almost make Precious and her story seem real and this is what keeps readers interested. Another criticism that was said in the essay was, “Too debased and self-loathing to reveal them to anyone else, Precious lays her undressed emotions before the reader with fervent intimacy; we fairly feel her breath in our ears” (Mahoney 85). I completely agree with Mahoney, as readers read Precious’s story the way Sapphire describes her life and lets Precious speak paints a perfect picture of Push, this is one of the biggest connections that the reader has to the book. Mahoney later adds to this comment by saying, “…Sapphire has created in Push an affecting and impassioned work that sails on the strength of pure, stirring feeling from a girl who should long ago have had all the feeling knocked out of her” (Mahoney 86). This is explaining how strong and inspiring the character of Precious is, how Sapphire created her in a way that instead of getting weaker she got stronger even though her situation got worse. In my opinion this quote is significant because as I had said before this is one of the many things that make this book so special, how u can go from painting a picture about many scenes in the book to actually making connections from Precious and real life.
In Michiko Kakutani’s critical essay “A cruel world, endless until a teacher steps in,” she discuses Sapphire’s Push. Her main focus is to let the readers know that Precious wasn’t just like any main character and the story that is told about her has dipper meanings. One of her comments that support this is, “Push, however, is not the story of a helpless to be a story of a female empowerment and triumph” (Kakutani 82). This quote is significant because it clearly explains how Push...
Cited: Kakutani, Michiko. “A cruel world, Endless until a teacher steps in.”
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale, 1996. 99: 82-83
Mahoney, Rosemary. “Don’t nobody want me. Don’t nobody need me.” Contemporary
Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale, 1996. 99: 84-86
Woods, Paula. “Pushed to survival.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale,
1996. 99: 86-87
Sapphire. Push. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.
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