Something borrowed from the Essayist
(All copyrights of the image above belongs to Richard Crouse [subject to fair use].)
Sabiniana B. Baliba
PHIL 312: Ethical Studies
3 November 2016
Precious in the godless World of Nietzsche and Sartre
In the godless world of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, we are completely on our own. And because morality does not exist, life is brutal all the time. But amid its brutality, we always have a choice. We can resist evil (anything harmful to us), or walk away safe, sane and sound—and take the call–just as how Precious in the 2009 movie should have long done for herself.
In brief: Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a fictional character of the protagonist in the novel Push by Sapphire. (Natividad, 2010, p. 339) She is a sixteen-years-old, African-American descent, who is born and raised in Harlem, New York. She is overweight and quite vulgar for her age. Almost illiterate, she has been behaving badly at school as influenced by domestic violence ongoing at home. She is pregnant with her second child through incest by her father; while she is verbally, physically, and emotionally abused by her mother (Mo’Nique). Worse, her dad caused her HIV; and her mom is capitalizing her and Mongol (her eldest daughter) to finance her bum ways of living (on welfare). It’s disturbing to see Precious has endured it all.
Nonetheless, this film is telling us, how a bad call can take a toll to one’s being (such as how Precious and Mary endured abuse); how dysfunctional concerns could lead to moral catastrophes (letting Mary collect welfare at the expense of Precious and her daughter instead of working). Likewise, the movie tells us that home is not always as sweet as we’d like it to be. That our domestic lives can either make or break us; but it doesn’t mean we have to embrace and endure evil all our lives. Besides, we can treat our friends, classmates, co-workers, or others and the community as our extended families, if we are seeking a sense of belonging.
Thus, if Precious is trying to find essence in her life, in Page 319, Sartre argues that “existence precedes essence” (2000). What it means to me, is that we’re born into this meaningless world—and it’s all up to us to find the meaning as we’d like them to be. That if we do aim for it, we have to work for it or create it ourselves. But regardless how we should never let anyone define our lives (like how Mary humiliates her daughter). Neither, let our tribulations (like the incest Precious has endured) limit us to who we can become. Because if we do, Sartre (2000) says we’re engaging into “self-deception” (also known as bad faith). Apparently, people who engage into such, are scared to define themselves as they are as supposed to; so they let others define them.
Finally, it’s relieving to see Precious fight Mary and walk away with her two children in her arms. I feel a sense of joy in seeing her overcome bad faith. Although she is placed only in eight-grade, what matters, is that she’s now safe and free, and she has a good chance to be happy. On the other hand, I’m disappointed to watch the evil character of a mother in Mary. I find her so pathetic to talk about her insecurities and her irrational love for a worthless man. Imagine if all women are like her, perhaps it’s impossible to win our war against the misogynistic world. Thank goodness, there other characters in the film such as Ms. Blue Rain (Paula Patton) and Ms. Weiss (Mariah Carey) who are educated and sensible that they made a difference in Precious’ life and those of others.
Last, but not least, no matter how damaging the injuries Precious has sustained from her parents, change for the better is never too late. Walking away from Mary is the best thing she has done for herself. Although it doesn’t mean that her struggles are over, for she still has to raise her kids, she also needs to deal with the HIV, and she does not have a job and no home to stay–but still, it’s okay. Because she’s heading towards a better life. Also, if she remains in that house with Mary, she’s not only punishing herself, but she’s tolerating Mary’s evilness. In the first place, she has to consider her kids for they need her protection, care, and love. It’s impossible to provide those and raise them well if she stays there. As for Mary, I can’t say that she’s too old to change. However, I doubt if she has the guts to face her verdicts in life. If she doesn’t face imprisonment for what she has caused her daughter: She needs a therapist. But more than the therapist, she needs a job.
To end, in the godless world of Nietzche and Sartre, we are the gods to ourselves. We are empowered by our knowledge, by our judgment, by our tenacity to create a meaningful life. Hence, we are the products of the choices we make. That if we are dealing with any demons on earth, our responsibility to ourselves is to fight them or we can walk away in peace. Enduring Evil is not resilience; it’s insanity. We need to have a good grip of our self-worth– because we are all Precious and worthy of all the best things in life. To fellow women, gone are the days that we are a minority to men. We must say “No” if we do mean no. We must be relentless in pushing ourselves to greatness, by achieving education, by building a meaningful career, by enriching our passion, by wisely doing our roles to our respective homes to the best of our abilities and sound judgment.
Daniels, L., & Fletcher F. S. (2008). Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire [Motion Picture]. United States: Lions Gate Studio.
Natividad, A. (2010). Movie Review: Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 5(3), 339-342.
Sterba, James P. (2000). Ethics: Classical Western Texts in Feminists and Cultural Perspectives: Oxford University Press.