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The Lesson Written by Toni Cade Bambara

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Miss Moore wants to teach the children the inequities of their society and to teach them the value of hard work and money. Though she talks about it to the children, she can evidently see that the children are not responding to her. Seeing this, she takes them to a famous toy store on Fifth Avenue, a rich district. The prices of the toys there grab everyone’ s attention. The first change in Sylvia, at this point, is that she includes herself in the conversation by commenting on the absurdity of someone buying a very expensive toy sailboat for their children – the sailboat costs all of one thousand, one hundred and ninety-five dollars.

Miss Moore does not answer Sylvia satisfactorily, which irks the latter and puts her back in the position where she dislikes Miss Moore and does not want to converse anymore. Soon thereafter, Sylvia feels another change in her; when Miss Moore decides that all of them should go inside the shop, Sylvia feels ashamed to go in. While she had never felt class consciousness before, she now feels reluctant to go to the toy store where “ rich people shop” (Bambara), as one of her friends had put it.

In a strange way, she feels that stepping into the shop would amount to a sacrilege at par with being rowdy at church – something Sylvia and a friend of hers had been dared to do in the past but failed to go through with. This change is really unpredicted; Sylvia who had “ never ever been shy about doing nothing or going nowhere” (Bambara) now has to be pushed into the store by her friends.

She does not know why she feels ashamed, and she is not aware that it has anything to do with her being poor. A little while ago Miss Moore had breached the topic of them being poor, but it had not registered fully with Sylvia until now. She feels anger building up inside her and it makes her question Miss Moore for bringing them to that toy store. However, she still feels sullen and refuses to let Miss Moore find out her feelings or the reasons thereof.

Nonetheless, she cannot help but wonder what sorts of people have enough money to buy such expensive gifts for their children.

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preview essay on The Lesson Written by Toni Cade Bambara
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Literature
  • Level: Undergraduate
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