Toni Cade Bambara: Lesson for Change
Toni Cade Bambara was a renowned author, educator and civil rights activist. She created short stories that drew attention and awareness to the social, political and economic issues of her time. “Bambara always insisted that social commitment is inseparable from the production of art.” (Andrews, Foster and Harris 22) “The Lesson”, published in 1972, is a short story from the collection, “Gorilla, My Love”. This story’s purpose was to bring the social inequalities that were prevalent within the urban community to the forefront of the minds of the readers. The intention was not only to bring the issues to light, but to empower people to make the necessary changes in their lives and to “wake up and demand their share of the pie” (542). “The Lesson” introduces us to an undereducated group of children from a poor urban community and the woman who takes them through this journey of discovery, Miss Moore. The story is told through a first-person narrative by a young African American girl named Sylvia. Sylvia is a tough, proud, stubborn child that keeps her true thoughts and emotions hidden away. She begins the story by introducing us to Miss Moore, with whom she is not particularly fond of. Her opinion of Miss Moore seems to be largely affected by the influences of the adults in her life. This begins to show us how a lack of parental responsibility can affect the minds and perceptions of our children. I agree with this because my children emulate everything I do. As a single mother, all of their attention is on me and for the first few crucial years of development, I am their only teacher. They will learn from these experiences and examples that we set .The parents in “The Lesson” do not seem to be very responsible; the children are often pawned off on their aunt and they speak negatively of Miss Moore when she is not around. Miss Moore is an educated black woman who seeks to educate the children about the ways of the world. “She’d...
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