Although innocence is cherished in children, it is of little use once each individual begins to approach adulthood. It is experience that gets one through adulthood. Experience is what allows one to be successful in life. Yet, experience is not simply experiencing life, but learning from one’s experience. Such is demonstrated in Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson,” and Robert Frost’s, “The Road Not Taken”. “The Lesson” demonstrates a child’s shift from arrogance to learning a lesson she was resistant to learning through the experience that her teacher provided. “The Road Not Taken” demonstrates the value of having to put in effort to work one’s way through life to gain the experience necessary to be successful. Both involve the gain of experience through the loss of some degree of innocence due to the willingness to learn from personal and extraneous experiences. Experience instills wisdom by diminishing some of the naiveté brought about by innocence.
Aldous Huxley once stated that “experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him." In Barbara’s “The Lesson,” the protagonist, Sylvia, has to put up with an educated woman, Ms. Moore, who is trying to expose the children of the neighborhood to the large world. She continuously tries to help them gain experience by learning about the way the world operates. The children of the neighborhood are relatively naïve and come from a seemingly poor background. When they visit the toy store, F.A.O Schwarz, they witness how expensive the toys are to the point that the cost of a number of them can keep a family fed for a month. Their innocence is shown in how amazed they are by the prices of the toys and in how their outlook on life remains relatively unchanged before and after the trip. Sylvia is the exception here. It is during this trip that Sylvia begins to lose some of her innocence by realizing that not everyone lives an impoverished or middle class life. She also realizes how she is...
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