'The Lesson' by Toni Cade Bambara

1830 Words8 Pages
"The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara is a short story set in the inner part of New York City that gives the reader an opportunity to briefly see into the lives of children living devoid of wealth and education. It takes place in the early seventies, following the civil rights movement and during a time when the imbalance of wealth in terms of race was immense. Bamabara, through the use of narrative point of tone, symbols, setting and characterization, brings out and develops what I believe to be the two main themes of the story: materialism and social inequality.

The narrator in "The Lesson" is a young girl named Sylvia who tells the story in first person. Through her we get a picture of the difficulties experienced from growing up in a poor
…show more content…
The setting of the poor inner city helps us realize how unevenly the pie is split up between members of society. As close as the inner city is to Manhattan, they are worlds apart in terms of social class and wealth. The lesson that the children take out of the field trip with Ms. Moore directly related to the fact that these children have been raised less fortunately that some, and to get out of oppression and poverty, they will have to work. The children realize the value of money and how unfair it is that there is so much wealth in Manhattan and a stone 's throw away in the inner city, there is extreme poverty. The children learn social gaps are very wide, and by leaving their ghetto area they some to she that in comparison to Manhattan, they are all receiving the small slice of the American pie. Miss Moore and the Manhattan trip help the children realize that poverty is not found everywhere, and that education can give them the power to elevate their status.

Characterization in this story ties together all the elements that help strengthen the themes in "The Lesson." The two most important characters are Sylvia and Miss Moore, but the children as a group also plan and important role. There are different types of characters and roles. For example, if we look at the big picture, we have a teacher/student or authority/subject relationship between Miss Moore and the students. If we look at the smaller picture we

More about 'The Lesson' by Toni Cade Bambara

Get Access