Analysis of "The Lesson"

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In Toni Bambara’s, The Lesson, she tells the reader a story of one summer day from a young African American girl’s perspective named Sylvia, who discovers at the very end that there’s a heavily weighted lesson to learn from Miss Moore, though Sylvia might not know the meaning of the lesson yet. This story takes place in the 1960’s, the beginning of the civil rights era. Bambara shows the reader that equality still does not exist in America, even a century after the Emancipation Proclamation. She shows, through Miss Moore and the students, when they realize the bigger lesson, the pitfalls of the American capitalistic society and that change is needed for parity.

At the time the story takes place, the distribution of wealth was not fair in America, and still may not be to this day. Bambara first shows us, when Miss Moore and her students are walking down the street in the city, Miss Moore complaining about America. She argues that money isn’t divided up right in this country (68). This disassociation of wealth causes a class structure to form in a society. It causes living standards to differentiate among these classes. All of the students live in apartments and Flyboy doesn’t even have a home. The students and their families live in the slums. Miss Moore then goes on to complain about her student’s parent’s incomes, the cost of rent, and what other things cost (68).

The cab ride in the city ends up costing $ .85 cents. Sylvia ends up taking the tip and confidently states, “And I decide he don’t need it bad as I do, so later for him.” (68). Then later Sugar seriously asks Miss Moore if they are allowed to steal. The students talk as if it common to steal and it is accepted in their community with no moral consequence. This was how the students were brought up to act and shows their beliefs. This exposes a different culture and expectations based on their class in society.

When the class arrives at the toy store, looking through the window,...
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