The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara Essay Topics

The main character in Toni Cade Bambara’s short story called “The Lesson” ironically is not even named until midway through the story. Sylvia is a tough girl from the ghetto who uses her experience at the museum and the toy store to become more self aware. In “The Lesson,”

We will write a custom essay sample on

Bambara’s Short Story Called “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara

or any similar topic only for you

Order Now
Sylvia learns a lot about herself, but nothing that she will share; instead she will use her knowledge inwardly to propel herself. What the reader knows about Sylvia is very little.

Bambara provides no physical description of her although we suspect from the beginning that she is from the ghetto as she speaks very colloquially and talks of winos and pee in the hallway of her building. The reader can also glean this knowledge from the other characters in the story. Sylvia is stubborn and she keeps her true feelings inside. She is therefore a fairly “closed” person. Even when she wants to know what a real boat costs, she will not directly ask Miss Moore because she doesn’t want to give her the satisfaction of speaking to her.

When they are in the toy store and Sugar longingly runs her finger over the boat, Sylvia says, “I’m jealous and want to hit her. Maybe not her, but I sure want to punch somebody in the mouth (424). She is angry about the inequities of wealth in the world, but she doesn’t want to appear that way to anyone so she pretends to be bored. She doesn’t want anyone to think that these sort of social inequities bother her, especially since that is what Miss Moore is trying to prove. She is even angry at Sugar for expressing a lesson learned from this experience. This does not mean at all that she doesn’t “get it”.

She understands exactly the ramifications of this experience. Sylvia is bright and she does have sort of an epiphany while entering the toy store. She says, “But I feel funny, shame,” as she enters the toy store, but he is not quite sure what she is shamed about. She is intuitive enough

We will write a custom essay sample on

Bambara’s Short Story Called “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara

or any similar topic only for you

Order Now
to realize that she cannot afford these things even though her family works hard as well. As they ride home on the train, she keeps thinking about the price of these toys and what that money could buy. “Thirty five dollars would pay for the rent and the piano bill too.

Who are these people that spend that much for performing clowns and $1000 for toy sail boats? What kinda work they do and how they live and how come we ain’t in on it/” (424) Sylvia is resentful of the money spent on these extravagances and yet, angry that she doesn’t have the money to do the same. She experiences shame over her social class, probably for the first time. Because she is taken out of her own reality, the prices in the toy store hit her like a bucket of cold water in the face. She has just come face-to-face with the cold reality of what others have and what she does not.

Her stubbornness will not let her admit any of this to Miss Moore or even to Sugar, but she feels in in her chest. She won’t speak the “truth” that she knows aloud, but she can feel it inside her. What she does do is vow to be a strong person. She is determined as evidenced in her statement, “But aint nobody gonna beat me at nuthin” (426). The reader believes that she will use this new-found knowledge as a guiding point in her life. She is stubborn and determined, and while she may not care about the flaws in the system of wealth distribution like Sugar, she will make sure that she is no longer on the failing end of this equation.

With her stubbornness and street smarts, the reader has no idea where this determined attitude will take her—to a world of drugs or other illegal activities in order to make money or a more legal route. We do know that these words are deep inside her and will propel her toward the money she believes she wants and is entitled to. Sylvia is a round character as we can see the “wheels turning” as she contemplates new information and uses it to make her even stronger.

WORKS CITED

Lawn, Beverly, 40 Short Stories A Portable Anthology, Bedford/St. Martin’s, Boston, 2004. pp. 419-426.

We will write a custom essay sample on

Bambara’s Short Story Called “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara

or any similar topic only for you

Order Now

Show More

Sometimes growing up we experience situations that can change our perspective on life. Especially, when these situations happen unexpectedly; we are in disbelief. In Toni Cade Bambara short story “The Lesson” written in first person; it delves into the struggle of a girl, Sylvia, who realizes the economic and social injustice surrounding her. However, with the help of Miss Moore Sylvia comes to grip with this issue, and opts to overcome it. In “The Lesson” Miss Moore wanted to impart on Sylvia and the other children is the value of a dollar, the importance of education, and to fathom the social and economic injustice that bounded them.
To begin with, Miss Moore, Sylvia, and the other children are from the “slums”. However, what…show more content…

Furthermore, Miss Moore hails two cabs and gives each of the children five dollars for transportation. Shortly after, getting in the cab; Miss Moore and the children arrive to Fifth Avenue at the F.A.O. Schwarz, toy store. The atmosphere had instantly changed and Sylvia and the other children noticed. To illustrate, “Then we check out that we on Fifth Avenue and everybody dressed in stockings. One lady in a fur coat, hot as it is, White folks crazy.” Before, actually going in Miss Moore advises that they look through the toy store window first. While looking through the window the children examines each toy. First a three hundred dollar microscope, then a four hundred and eighty dollar paperweight, and lastly this hand crafted sailboat that cost one hundred and ninety five dollars. Each item brought about an educational, yet debatable conversation. However, the sailboat is what peaked the climax of story ,and really stunned the children; especially, Sylvia. Sylvia is at raged with the price of this sailboat, and her mind begins to fill with questions. To illustrate, “Who’s pay all that when you can buy a sailboat set for a quarter at Pop’s, a tube of glue for a dime, and a ball of string for eight cents? “ It must have a motor and a whole lot else besides, “I say. “My sailboat cost me about fifty cents.” Another, question Sylvia had about sailboats is how much a real one would cost, but the thought of asking Miss

One thought on “The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara Essay Topics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *