Posts Tagged ‘Sapphire’

Precious Thoughts

A few years ago, I taught Push by Sapphire in my Modern Novel class.  I was surprised at how shocked my students were at the story.  I mean, really, this is the generation that sees people’s heads get chopped off on the Internet.  When I revised my Modern Novel course to teach it a second time, I took Push off the reading list and replaced it with The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  It wasn’t that I was afraid of shocking my students.  I just felt that I didn’t do a good job teaching Sapphire’s brillant novel.  On the other hand, there is a lot of critical material about The Bluest Eye — so I felt that I had more “help.” 

Now, with all the press out about Precious (the movie based after Push), I’m rethinking my decision.   Did I just chicken out of dealing with the Push’s themes of violence, incest, abuse, and poverty?  I know, of course, that The Bluest Eye deals a lot with the same themes; still, there is something far more disturbing about the issues in Push.  Or perhaps, it’s the way that Sapphire approached these issues — unflinching and almost matter of fact.  My Entertainment Weekly (I know — not a great “literary” source, but it works here) recently published a review of Precious stating “What’s terrifying about the abuse here is how casuallly it’s accepted as a fact of life, by both perpetrator and victim.”   I know that I have students who know this way of life.  Perhaps that is what made teaching Push so challenging.  And painful.

With all this said, I want to see Precious.  I know that it’s out in limited release — so I doubt that the film will make its way to rural New York.  Still, there is always DVD.  I also believe that this film has the power to make people talk.  Sapphire, of course, has not been silent about the challenges of making this film, and I’m looking forward to seeing the end result.