February 11, 2011
The Moore You Know, The Moore You Grow.
In the short story "The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara, a group of African-American children from the projects of New York are confronted with social class differences for the first time during a trip to F.A.O. Schwartz. Thomas Cassidy, author of an article in Critical Survey of Short Fiction, describes that the short story is “structured in an oral form that allows for meaningful side issues with the aim of being clear the central point to her audience” (Bambara 652). One can learn right away that Sylvia, the story's narrator, is not fond of Miss Moore and could care less about the trip to the toy store. Bambara illustrates this by the tone and language of Sylvia's narration. Her use of slang and curse words clearly indicates where she has grown up and her dislike of Miss Moore. She even conjures up a plan “to jump out at the next light and run off to the first bar-b-que we can find” (Bambara 653). It is kind of ironic that Sylvia feels this way, considering this trip had the most dramatic impact on her as she learns a powerful lesson. Miss
Moore shows her and the rest of the kids in the neighborhood the social and economic differences that exist in the world they live in. There is a sense of hope at the conclusion because Sylvia is determined to rise above her current circumstances and create a better life for herself. Miss Moore instills the importance of being open to all of life's lessons and the value of learning itself. The first principle of life that Miss Moore instills in the children is assertiveness. At the beginning of the story, when Sylvia is complaining about Miss Moore, she states, “she was always planning these boring-ass things for us to do” (Bambara 651). This showed that Miss Moore was always assertive in trying to teach various life lessons to the kids of the projects. She could have easily been with the kid’s mothers “in a la-de-da apartment up the block...