The theme of Vicki L. Sears “Grace” can be seen in the relationship that develops
between two of the characters, Billie Jim and Paul. Billie is an orphan who gets along with his
sister and is adopted by Paul and his wife. Billie displays a desire to trust and accept their new
parents while sister remains suspicious. Vickie Sears illustrate that although children suffer
abuse and neglect, there is hope that they can learn to trust and build self-esteem.
Billie Jim is a silent child who relies on his sister to protect him. Paul and his wife come
to get them but Billie is hiding in a tree to escape from some of the bigger boys. His sister steps
in and fights the older boys to get Billie down. She describes him as a “sissy”. Billie has to use
the bathroom, but instead of asking their new parents he pinches his sister. Paul takes him to the
restroom and his sisters concern gives us an understanding into prior abuse and possible reasons
for Billie Jim’s reserved behavior. Although Paul would never hurt Billie Jim intentionally at the
end of the story he does. His death not only means an end to their relationship, but also an end to
their secure home and protection. Billie loses the starring role along with the friend he has made,
and is back into his uncertain life led by corrupt adults.
“The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara is when Toni attended college and come of age as
a writer. Bambara was at the head of radical politics, the feminist movement, and African
American culture in Harlem when it was the 60’s. Her writing uncovers the differences forced on
African Americans of that time which America avoided and could not interfere. The story is a
window for the reader into Bambara’s reality as much as it is a lesson for the immature woman
Sylvia the main character.
“The Lesson” is a first person narrative told by a young, poor, black...