- The story begins with Precious getting kicked out of her high school due to her second pregnancy by her father, which she is angered by as she believes she's done nothing wrong. Later on, Mrs. Lichenstein visits her home encouraging her to go to an alternative school, Each One Teach One, where she soon meets Ms. Rain and other classmates enrolled in the pre-G.E.D. courses. Ms. Rain becomes an inspirational figure in all of the girl's lives as they all come from dysfunctional backgrounds. Writing is key to Ms. Rain's teaching, therefore she has them start a autobiography called "Life Stories-Our Class Book." Through these writings Precious is able to write down her thoughts about her troubled life and dreams. After the birth of her second child, Precious reveals that her first daughter lives with her grandmother, revoking Precious' mom's welfare advantages. This causes an ugly dispute between Precious and her mother resulting in Precious to be abandoned, but with the help of Ms. Rain, she is able to stay in a halfway house. The new home brings independence from her past and Precious begins to think of living a "normal" life with a real boyfriend, until her mother unexpectedly reappears and reveals her father had died from aids. Shortly after, Precious is tested positive for HIV. A classmate, Rita, tells her to join support groups that help her emotionally as she tries to deal with the circumstances. Precious' whereabouts and future are left for the reader to imagine as the novel ends with Precious' writings from the alternative school.
- Self-confidence and independence is a central theme that is conveyed through Precious' fantasies of being another person more accepted in society that alters into a fantasy of a better version of herself rather than Madonna or Janet Jackson. This change is brought on by the hope and love the Each One Teach One students and teachers have given her allowing her to discover her independence from the bondages of her mother and father's abuse to care for herself and her baby rather than live in a world surrounded by fear and cell bars.
- The author's tone is quite "out there" I guess you could say. The main character, Precious, is the narrator of the novel who lacks any reading, writing and even speaking skills. This lack of education contributes to the tone's ignorance. Throughout the novel, Precious describes traumatizing events as if they were a mild crime like running a red light, but her childish tone up brings the emotions of sadness brought on by a lack of understanding.
- Illeism is used throughout the novel conveying the understanding of a child stuck in a 16 year old's body. "Precious wandered what file said." (pg. 30) Diction is exaggerated in the novel to portray the lack of education brought on by abuse and poverty. "I big, I talk, I eats, I laugh, watch TV, do what my muter says." (pg. 33) Precious also faces several conflicts from the abuse of her mother and father to the struggle of trying to escape the bondages that weigh her down. "Then she kick me side of my face! 'Whore! Whore!' she screamin.'" (pg. 9) Epithets are also used extensively in the novel to allow the reader to understand how Precious first categorizes people based on the first impression. ".. the cornrow head said smiling." (pg. 32) The story always draws into random flashbacks to help the reader understand in "sneak peeks" the events that played out in Precious's life. "She is 12 no was 12? She is 16 now." (pg. 23) Tragedy is a main device seen by the reader as clear as day from the series of rapes to the down syndrome child to the revealing of HIV positive in the family. "I'm not happy to be HIV positive." (pg. 141) Imagery brought on by the many daydreams of Precious showed how badly she yearned to escape the life she lived for a life she knew she had no chance at. "The butter-colored nurse and a little black nurse were standing there by her bed." (pg. 17) Precious and Ms. Rain's blossomed friendship portrays irony compared to their relationship when they first met. "'The what?' the woman says raising her eyebrows and peering over the top of her glasses at Precious." (pg. 28) The tragic mood contributes to the overall tone of the novel by creating a sympathetic aura for the readers. "I'm walking across the lobby room real real slow. Full of chicken, bread; usually that make me not want to cry remember, but I feel like crying now." (pg. 40) Stream of Consciousness is another major literary device used. The novel itself is basically a diary of Precious's life events and thoughts on every aspect of her life from her beatings to her fantasies. "I want to tell her what I always want to tell someone, that the pages, 'cept for the ones with pictures, look all the same to me .." (pg. 50)
- Indirect: "Precious tried to turn away from her but the butter-colored nurse from Greenwood, Mississippi held her tighter, pulling Precious' chest and shoulders into her arms." (pg. 18) "My fahver don't see me really. If he did he would know I was like a white girl, a real person, inside." (pg. 14) Direct: "I should be in the eleventh grade, getting ready to go into the twelf' grade so I can gone 'n graduate. But I'm not. I'm in the ninfe grade." (pg. 1) "But I couldn't let him, anybody, know, page 122 look like page 152, 22, 3, 6, 5-all the pages look alike to me. 'N I really do want to learn." (pg. 5) The author uses both approaches to convey the character through direct describing words and support their statements through their actions.
- The author's syntax and diction alternate between each page break. Precious speaks of herself in an illeism stance or in first person while another section could be told by an outside third person perspective. The author uses different perspectives to portray the same plot but through different understandings. "'Precious!' That's my mother calling me.'" (pg. 9) "This time she knew Mama knew. Umm hmm, she knew. She brought him to me. I ain' crazy, that stinky hoe gave me to him." (pg. 25)
- Precious is more of a dynamic and round character in the sense that she alters from a person changed by her circumstances into a character who takes hold of the reigns of her future. In the beginning of the novel, Precious lives her life with one goal: surviving. Because of the lack of love, encouragement and education in her life, she is forced to believe any other life for her is impossible to achieve. When she attends the Each One Teach One alternative school, she finds herself surrounded by people just like her who learn to lean on one another to fill in the missing gaps of hope and love they lack in their lives. At the end of the novel, Precious finds herself with a new sense of independence and self-confidence. Although she discovers she's positive for HIV, she reacts to the situation differently by continuing to live her life and care for her child.
- I placed the novel down feeling like I've met Precious Jones on a more personal level than she'd ever give off if she were a real person I'd met. The novel's choice of literary devices and diction placed me inside the head of a poverty, abuse stricken child who has no sense of what is right or wrong, but is ironically innocent in her own unique way. This innocence wouldn't have been understandable if it weren't for the insight into her thoughts through this novel. "'What's your daddy's name?' 'Carl Kenwood Jones, born in the Bronx.' She say, 'What's the baby's father's name?' I say, 'Carl Kenwood Jones, born in the same Bronx.' She quiet quiet. Say, ' Shame, thas a shame. Twelve years old, twelve years old,' she say over n' over like she crazy (or in some shock or something). She look at me, butter skin, light eyes-I know boyz lover her. She say, 'Was you ever, I mean did you ever get to be a chile?' Thas a stupid question, did I ever get be a chile? I am a chile. I'm confused, tired." (pg.12-13)