Analysis Of The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara

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Toni Cade Bambara’s short story, “The Lesson”, is more than just a vivacious story about a girl in poverty out of place in a high-end toy store. Instead, Sylvia’s transformation, the change in both her mindset and attitude, is clearly seen throughout the length of the story, especially after Miss Moore’s trip to the toy store. Toni Cade Bambara wrote “The Lesson” as part of her short fiction collection, Gorilla, My Love that was published in 1972 (Wikipedia). She is a social activist most recognized by her African-American experiences in her writing. Bambara was born in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City (Toni Cade Bambara Biography). She grew up towards the end of The Harlem Renaissance, where African-American neighborhoods became…show more content…
Sugar and Sylvia walk to the toy store and as they are about to enter, Sylvia is reluctant to open the door. She conveys, “Not that I’m scared, what’s there to be afraid of, just a toy store. But I feel funny, shame. But what I got to be shamed about? Got as much right to go in as anybody. But somehow I can’t seem to get hold of the door” (Bambara). She, although wishes not to be, is going through self-realization. She realizes that society does not expect someone like her, a black girl in poverty, to walk into a store like that and therefore, she does not enter. If Sylvia did not understand Miss Moore’s lesson, she would have swung the door open and made herself at home. She would have gone right up the cashier and most likely make a snarky remark to him. Instead, she does the complete opposite. In fact, Sylvia is very much correct in a way. This story is grounds for ironies and incidentals and “Schwarz”, the store name, is German for black. (Graves) Also, someone in such deep poverty such as Sylvia would have little to no use from a glass paper weight, disregarding the cost of it. For example, Junebug explains how she has no need for a $480.00 paperweight due to the fact she does not even own a desk or can afford one…show more content…
Towards the beginning of “The Lesson”, she had much more of a “we” attitude. For example, in the first paragraph, the word we is used excessively. Instead of her just hating Miss Moore, it was “we” that hated Miss Moore. It was “we” who laughed and “we” who watched the junk man. However, fast forward to the end of the story and she has become exceedingly individualistic. For instance, Sugar has the idea of racing Sylvia to a store, Hascombs, and instead of Sylvia bolting down the sidewalks, instead, she though, “I’m going to the West End and then over to the Drive to think this day through. She [Sugar] can run if she want to and even run faster. But ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin" (Bambara). Therefore, it is easy to see Sylvia is not as collective as she once was. She wants to be alone and because of all the emotions from the lesson, she needs time to think them out,
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