Toni Cade Bambara The Lesson Theme

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The most commonly identified theme when “The Lesson,” by Toni Cade Bambara, is read is undoubtedly one about social and racial inequality during the 1960’s and how Miss Moore, the children’s teacher, is pointing it out to the children. However, Miss Moore never displays that to the children directly, only ever urging the children to give their own opinions on what they thought about their experiences during the day. Instead, there is a much more important theme and one that drives along the plot and action within the short story; a theme that is often missed. That theme being how Miss Moore is trying to push the children to better themselves and get out of the cycle that the entire neighborhood and their families have been going through, generation after generation. The cycle of being poor, uneducated, and doing nothing with their…show more content…
That is the cycle that most children’s families in the story are stuck in. Sylvia, the main character, Sugar, her cousin, and Junior, Sylvia's sibling, all live together with Sylvia's Aunt Gretchen while their mothers were "in a la-de-da apartment up the block having a good ole time" (Bambara 280), most likely meaning that their parents had effectively left the family, and were not providing for their children. There is no age given for Aunt Gretchen, but given the circumstances, one could not expect her to be able to provide for three children by herself. Sylvia described the other residents of their apartment as "winos who cluttered up our parks and pissed on our handball walls and stank up our hallways and stairs so you couldn't halfway play hide-and-seek without a goddamn gas mask" (Bambara 279), showing that the residents are bad
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