Frederick Douglass and Precious Jones Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Although fictional, Precious Jones, speaks to the reader through her story with powerful words. She is living in a different kind of slavery, although slavery itself had been abolished ore than a century ago. She is a slave to the lack of humanity of her own parents and the indifference of those who are supposed to teach and offer her guidance in school. As a child, she has no choice, but to comply. By the time she reaches sixteen years of age, she is pregnant for the second time, after having been impregnated by her own father. Both her parents abuse her in every way possible. What hurts even more than the life she has at home is the way strangers at school deal with her. Her teacher's lack of understanding, their indifference and the cruelty of her peers converge toward a shocking reality: although she is sixteen, a student in ninth grade, her teachers appear to be unaware that she cannot read. As she describes it, she is invisible to everyone, being tolerated there as the easiest way to deal with her situation. Nobody taught her how to speak for herself or about herself and therefore nobody really knew what was going on. In Precious' case, the shows her mother is watching on TV combine into her only source of information. She is a bright child and that can only add to her suffering, making her only more aware of the brutality she is living with. The school in Harlem, where she lives, the very institution that should offer little Precious guidance and a way out is ineffective. As she explains, she has found a way to beat the flawed system and finish school in spite of her illiteracy: "I just wanna gone get the fuck out of I.S. 146 and go to high school and get my diploma"(Sapphire). In her ignorance, she thinks a diploma with no substance, is going to help her get somewhere. The lack of education makes her an easy pray to all those who want to abuse her, starting with her mother, who is, in fact, her greatest enemy. However, hope comes from the very school that chose to ignore her, through "Mrs. Lichenstein"(idem). After a bumpy encounter in her office at school, she is stubborn enough to follow Precious at home and give her information for an alternative school in Harlem that would accept as a student, in spite of her pregnancy. Precious describes a life in hell, a life that makes no sense. This kind of life reached such a degree of degradation that seems to offer no hope for the better. Yet, hope comes with the chance for Precious to attend Higher Education Alternative / Each One Teach One. The students attending this school could not hide in a cloak of invisibility anymore, thus Precious is actually given the chance to learn how to read first and foremost. From that point on she will be able to find ways of braking free from the slavery in her mother's home. Literacy brings along not only her freedom, but also a chance for her second newborn to be brought up in conditions that are suitable for a child to develop normally and actually, "be a child."

In both Frederick Douglas and Precious Jones cases, literacy opens every door possible for them. They were both able to break free from the dungeon inhumanity had created for them at first. Living under conditions most human beings find impossible to come out alive, they find the resources to learn how to read and from then on, they have the whole world open for them. Being able to read might seem a given to the modern society, but literacy is what actually is of crucial importance to those who are unfortunate enough to be illiterate. It might not be enough, but it certainly makes a huge difference, as the example of the two characters has proved.

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