The Power of Words

The Power of Words



The Power of Words

Part 1

The movie Precious is sad yet hopeful. It describes the life of Precious, a sixteen-year-old girl who has seen all manner of abuse from the people who are supposed to be her guardians. Her parents are the main cause of her problem. Precious has had to deal with sexual abuse from her father and in the process, she becomes pregnant and ends up getting infected with HIV. At the same time, she has to deal with verbal abuse from her mother, Mary. Mary is an opportunistic woman who is not in the least concerned with her daughter. During one of her verbal assaults, it becomes clear to the viewer that she has some resentment and jealousy towards her daughter. She overlooks the fact that her daughter has to struggle through life. Instead, she develops a mindset that precious stole her man. This twisted thinking dictates the way she treats her daughter. Mary only sees her daughter’s worth when she receives the welfare check. One of the striking characters of Mary is that she does not measure or limit the words she uses when she is talking to her daughter. The movie is a reflection of how words can have both positive and negative effects on people’s lives and determine the perception they create of the world.

Mary abuses Precious verbally. She calls her stupid many times and it is clear that her words have determined how Precious sees herself. Mary is the utmost authority figure in her life. Therefore, Precious takes Mary’s words to heart. In the beginning of the movie, Precious does not seem to have any idea what her name means. She has terrible self-esteem issues. She hardly speaks to others and she does not even look at others. Other than her mother, she has to face verbal abuse from her schoolmates. They bully her because of her appearance, particularly because of her obesity. Precious does not have any hope in the beginning because her mother has instilled this upon her. Mary tells her daughter constantly that she will amount to nothing and precious lives by these words. She tells her that nobody wants or needs her in life. She also tells her that she is not worth anything and that she should have aborted her when she learnt that she was pregnant. She also tells her that school is not going to help her in any way. Instead, she should concentrate on getting government assistance. Mary does not have anything positive to say to her daughter.

The power of words is manifest in verbal as well as written communication. Precious gets the chance to turn her life around when she begins attending the alternative school. She meets Ms Rain who shows a clear interest in her wellbeing. Miss Rain encourages Precious and she tells her that everyone is good at something. Precious believes in the power of words. Before meeting Miss Rain, she often engages herself in conversation. However, her mother’s words have a strong impact of her because she is the only meaningful.

Precious first experiences the power of words when she is able to read her first sentences. She is actually shocked that she can do so. She acquires a great interest in her education and she begins changing her perspective. She tells herself that she is not stupid. This contradicts what her mother tells her often. She begins to admit openly that her mother is wrong on some issues. She recognizes her progress when she begins attending the alternative school. She also changes her mind about her children. She begins developing the desire to be with them. She believes that she can create a better future for them. Ms Rain helps Precious to see a different perspective of life. Precious advances so much in her reading and writing to the extent that she is able to exchange letters with Ms Rain. This gives Ms Rain a chance to counsel and advice Precious. The teacher encourages Precious through her letters. The two are able to debate certain possibilities concerning the future.

Other than the ability to read and write, another sign that words can have powerful effect on people is reflected by Precious’ decision to stand up to her mother. When she goes back from the hospital after delivering her baby, Precious has to face her mother’s anger and wrath. Mary throws things at Precious with the intent of harming her. She accuses Precious of taking everything from her including her husband and her money. Mary also tells Precious that she is stupid and she will never change her life for the better. Precious does not take this lightly. She tells her mother that she is not stupid. Precious has transformed greatly since she began attending the alternative school. She actually got a chance to learn and she got other influences in her life. She met people who cared about her.

Precious not only receives comfort and help from Ms Rain, but she also learns how to give hope and encouragement. She has been through a lot in her life and she had never known moments of peace and happiness when she used to live in her mother’s house. She understands what it is to feel unloved and alone. She shows concern for Ms Rain when she approaches her and asks her if she faces challenges in her life. it is clear from this scene that Precious has learnt a lot. She makes Ms Rain open up and shares some of her struggles with her.  

Part 2

I thought that the selected topic was very important as it conveys a powerful message. People rarely think of the effects of their words. They are bound to talk aimlessly, not realizing the effect that their words have on those who are around them. People in authority such as parents, guardians, and teachers have a powerful effect on children and adolescents. They inform the way a child perceives the world. From the movie, it is clear that the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” does not fit in this situation. Words have a powerful effect. They can be both positive and negative and this will determine the effect they will have. My partner felt that the topic was important, especially in the way it portrays teachers. She was of the opinion that teachers have a major influence on people’s lives. Sometimes, they are the only positive influence that a child has. A child like Precious, who comes from a very toxic environment, needs other forms of influence in her life. Teachers play an important role in people’s lives. They not only teach the children how to read and write but they also teach them important life lessons. Therefore, it is important for teachers to be aware of the words they use. They can be a source of encouragement and hope, and they can be positive role models for the children.

The chance to work in a group discussion was fulfilling and engaging. It was a meaningful way to discuss various issues. More than that, it offered an opportunity to realize that people have different perspectives of issues. We read and watched the same texts and movie and we discussed the same issue but we had different opinions concerning most of them. This was enlightening for me. It gave me a chance to realize the importance of having an open mind. I learnt the importance of accommodating different points of view. Just like Precious learnt after she discovered that Ms Rain was a ‘homo’, people are not bad or evil just because they are different.


Daniels L., Magness, G., Magness, S. S., Winfrey O., Heller T, Perry, T., & Cortes, L. (Producers), & Daniels, L. (Director). (2009). Precious. [Motion picture]. United States: Lionsgate

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