Review: The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara

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The Lesson
In “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, a preteen named Sylvia is taken to a field trip with a group of friends by an educated woman named Miss Moore in hopes to motivate them to become successful. While Sylvia prefers to do something better with her summertime, she becomes aware of the vast financial gap between the wealthy and poor. Miss Moore conveys the message of working hard through education to achieve dreams. Through the elements of character, setting, and conflict, Sylvia begins to realize her intelligence is powerful and can be used for success.
The characters of ‘The Lesson” play critical roles as their motives are defined by their behavior and actions. Sylvia is a school age girl who has street knowledge and has learned
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It is easy to dislike someone when they spoil fun. Just like Sylvia declares “I’m really hating this nappy-head bitch and her goddamn college degree.” It is obvious that Sylvia sees Miss Moore as an outsider that is ruining her summer’s day worth of fun. Sylvia is used to doing whatever she wants and dislikes Miss Moore and her presence of requesting to take the kids on a field trip. Although there are several kids with Miss Moore, she seems to have focus on Sylvia. Teachers like Miss Moore like to challenge students to see how they respond. Miss Moore leaves Sylvia in charge of a cab “then she hustles half the crew in with her and hands me a five-dollar bill and tells me to calculate 10 percent tip for the driver.” The teacher has recognized qualities that Sylvia possesses and Miss Moore acknowledges it. It may also be a test to see if Sylvia would give the change back to Miss Moore, but regardless Miss Moore allows her to keep it as another gift from this life lesson. Another external conflict is society’s way of devaluating people based on their financial status, and even race. This results in these grade school kids to be at a disadvantage from the aspects of health, education, and being able to enjoy life with toys and entertainment. As the kids are exposed to an upscale lifestyle, Sylvia begins to comprehend the bigger picture of the uneven distribution of wealth throughout her own experience and the nation.
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