Toni Cade Bambara The Lesson

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In Toni Cade Bambara’s short story “The Lesson,” Miss Moore, an eccentric and odd woman that had “been to college” and found herself, “responsible for the young ones’ education” took them out (Bambara 330). One summer day Miss Moore took the local children out for some education; she took Sylvia, Sugar, Flyboy, Junebug, Big Butt, Mercedes, and Rosie Giraffe out to the city. The story is narrated by Sylvia as they take a taxi to Fifth Avenue where there are many wealthy people. They go to F.A.O. Schwarz, an expensive toy store where they see a fiberglass sailboat. Sylvia is hesitant to enter, but when she does it angers her. After they return to where they live Sylvia is still angry and Miss Moore asks what they learned, but she doesn’t say…show more content…
There are many examples of injustice used in the story that use imagery, from what people are wearing and how they look, and what the children see on the trip to the store. The first image is Miss Moore outside next to a mailbox in the heat. There is throughout the story an image of it is hot in the summer. Most low income areas of a city are not able to get out of the city heat during the summer. Unlike the more wealthy people who are able to head out to the beach or other areas the minority group tends to stay in the heart of the city and work. When they get to Fifth Avenue they noticed everyone is well dressed. Although it is hot out, there is a woman in a fur coat in the middle of the summer. This makes Sylvia say “White folk crazy” in response to what she sees (331). Afterwards they notice a fiberglass boat and are amazed by it, so they go to enter the store and we see Sylvia not able to enter the store. She relates it to the time she was dared to go into the Catholic Church. There is an image also of Sugar touching the boat. Even in the mind of a young child there is a separation of self from the other. She divides herself from white people and from the rich. She compares wealth to religion and something she feels shame from it. She sees the expensive store as holly and something you bow down your head for as if not an equal to. This is the inequality and discrimination she feels,…show more content…
The story is written as if Sylvia remembers a crucial summer in her young life. She is immature, yet she and her cousin Sugar were the only ones just right and not aged and foolish or young and foolish. The story starts with her being young and reckless with no apparent motivation other than boys and to do what wants with Sugar. Her first motivation is to ditch the “nappy-head bitch and her goddamn college degree” and figure out how to spend the five dollars handed to her. (331). Then you see a character change when the children are about to enter the store. There is a deep rooted anger of operation that is put on to the character that reflects colored people and lower class at the time. She has anger for feeling shame and lower than herself and the care free of the woman with the fur coat. There are hints of political foreshadowing, but are left as unresolved contemplations. The fact that a woman from the outside of her own bubble put her in the situation and didn’t explain much made her tense. When Miss. Moore asked it made her madder. She knew there was no reason to feel oppressed or less. Throughout the story Sylvia channeled her anger that she had let loose and turned it into a positive outcome to empower her low income status and to never get beat down at anything. Sylvia sees now how the world is flawed and divide when it comes to an equal chance at wealth. She learned a valuable
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