Grace: First-person Narrative and 206 3/14/2013 the Theme of Vicki L. Sears

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Dan Hymes

Prof. Martin

ENG 206


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...
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