The Deeper Meanings Within “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara
In Toni Bambara’s “The Lesson,” the events are told through the eyes of young girl named Sylvia who lives in a low class neighborhood. This point of view gives the readers a limited point of view because the events are strictly told by Sylvia. The strong language used throughout the story gives readers an idea of how people in the city speak.
The author uses this language for many reasons that help to support the theme. Also, the time in which the story was published, and the setting helps the readers to understand the theme the author is wanting the readers to understand.At the beginning of the story Sylvia looks at Miss Moore with bitterness and defiance. She says that she hates Miss Moore as much as the “winos who pissed on our handball walls and stand up on our hallways and stairs, so you couldn’t halfway play hide and seek without a god damn mask.” By comparing the hatred with something she enjoys, we get to see what children in this neighborhood do for fun. Sylvia believes Miss Moore is preventing the children from having fun. However, Miss Moore is attempting to teach them a lesson.
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Miss Moore is the only educated person in the neighborhood and takes the children on a trip to F.A.O. Schwartz in Manhattan. The goal of the trip is to show the students another side of life, hoping they realize that education is important if they want a better lifestyle. At first Sylvia is resistant to the lesson Miss Moore is trying to pass on. All Sylvia sees are toys with price tags that could feed a family of six.
Eventually, she comes to realize the message of social inequality, and knows she has the power to change the course of her life. Although Sylvia is still somewhat skeptical and bitter at the end of the story, the reader can see there is a glimmer of hope and desire for change in her outlook on life.The author, Toni Cade Bambara, grew up in New York and