Social Inequality In The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara

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Social inequalities between black and white people are no longer as distinct as they were a few decades ago. Nevertheless, many people still have a lot of prejudices against African-Americans. The unfairness of socioeconomic status can be seen in our daily lives yet it is something that we push to the back of our minds.

By showing these social inequalities through the use of language, Toni Cade Bambara 's short story "The Lesson" raises awareness for the African-American pursuit of cultural identity and emancipation. The reader gains an insight into the world of a black working class girl, named Sylvia, who narrates the story in African American vernacular English (AAVE). In contrast to Sylvia and her friends there is her teacher Miss Moore,
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What is also striking is that the Present-tense verbs are uninflected. This means that there is no -s ending in the present-tense third-person singular, e.g. “she say”. Another characteristic of AAVE is that verb be is often dropped like: “She not even related” or in its negative form replaced by the general negative indicator ain’t.

Bambara’s short story is full of taboo language, indicative of the colloquial speech style she seeks to represent among Sylvia and her friends. Taboo words like “Shit”, “damn” and “ass” all make multiple appearances in the story. Although this sort of language is not limited to the characteristics of AAE, it situates the African American childhood in their socially disadvantaged environment, where the inhibition level of using taboo vocabulary is at a minimum and the language is, in fact, that which is considered inappropriate in other social
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