This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Rich Versus Poor In The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara

1759 words - 7 pages

In Toni Cade Bambara's, "The Lesson", the story seems kind of linear when you start reading it. At first, it is just about a girl named Sylvia and her childish, rebellious nature toward Miss Moore. But you later discover that there is much more to this story than you initially expected. The seemingly insignificant quarrels that Sylvia has with Miss Moore have a deeper meaning to it. The resolution of the conflict between Sylvia and Miss Moore shows the struggle Sylvia has regarding whether she should not learn things because it appears like a weakness to her or to learn and accept what Miss Moore is trying to teach her.

The conflict between Sylvia and Miss Moore is because of Sylvia's understanding of the division between the rich and the poor. Sylvia lives in a very poor neighborhood so it is assumed that she and her friend get around by stealing things. This is shown when Sugar asks, "Can we steal?" in a serious tone like she's getting the ground rules squared away before she plays. (Bambara, 458) Another example is when Miss Moore tells Sylvia to calculate ten percent of five dollars to tip the cab driver. Sylvia replies, "And I'm stalling to figure out the tip and Sugar say give him a dime. And I decide he don't need it as bad as I do, so later for him." (Bambara, 458) This shows Sylvia's selfish nature, which stems from the ghetto she grew up in.

Miss Moore tries to show Sylvia and her friends the division between their poor society and the neighborhood of the people who are in a higher society. She says, "Imagine for a minute what kind of society it is in which some people can spend on a toy what it would cost to feed a family of sex or seven." (Bambara, 461) Sylvia begins to understand and wonder about the division between the poor and rich as well.

"And, evidently as a consequence of her knowledge, she has more money - enough to hire two cabs to take the kids to F.A.O. Schwarz and not worry about the $4.00 change that Sylvia has kept and which Miss Moore surely has not forgotten." (Cartwright 62) As a consequence of this fact, the children are jealous of her and dislike her because of it. "The story is essentially about Miss Moore's efforts to teach the children and their resistance, especially Sylvia's, to learning anything." (Cartwright 62) I agree with Cartwright's statement and this basically summarizes the theme of the story, which stems from Sylvia and her group's implicit jealously of Miss Moore's higher status in society.

The Contemporary literary criticism states,

"Finally, she indirectly indicated the type of urban environment in which she lives; 'And we kinda hated [Miss Moore]...the way we did the winos who cluttered up out parks and pissed on our handball courts halfway play hide and seek without a goddamn gas mask.'" (88:13)

This displays that Sylvia understands the type of environment that she lives in which brings up the dispute she has with Miss Moore. "She also reveals that she and her cousin live with...

Find Another Essay On Rich versus Poor in The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara

Symbolism in "The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara

1022 words - 4 pages Toni Cade Bambara's short story, "The Lesson," takes place in inner city New York. The main character, Sylvia, is a fourteen year old African American girl, who tells the story in a first person narrative. Sylvia mentions Miss Moore, a teacher who felt that it was her duty to help underprivileged children learn. Miss Moore felt there was a lesson to learn at FAO Schwartz, a very expensive, upper class toy store in downtown Manhattan. The reason

Sylvia's Struggle in The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara

1842 words - 7 pages Toni Cade Bambara’s "The Lesson" revolves around a young black girl’s struggle to come to terms with the role that economic injustice, and the larger social injustice that it constitutes, plays in her life. Sylvia, the story’s protagonist, initially is reluctant to acknowledge that she is a victim of poverty. Far from being oblivious of the disparity between the rich and the poor, however, one might say that on some subconscious level, she is in

Two Very Different Lessons: The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara Versus O by Tim Blake Nelson

1241 words - 5 pages I feel the story “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara has many similar qualities to the movie “O” by Tim Blake Nelson. The book and the movie are about two different people who have grown up in similar neighborhoods, are of the same race, and both of the characters had very disrespectful attitudes towards their elders who they should have been taught to respect. Throughout this story and movie, both of the main characters end up learning a very

The American Dream Exposed in The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara

1258 words - 5 pages Money constitutes the American Dream, because in America, to be successful in life means being wealthy. We live in an industrialized nation, in which money controls our very own existence. The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara establishes an argument about society’s injustice that entails financial opportunities by revealing the differences in living conditions between upper class and lower class. Another important point Stephen Cruz, a

Symbolism and Theme in "The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara 1972

994 words - 4 pages fair. Although it is easy to take from those beneath you, to move up, one must take a much longer, more difficult approach. Bambara incorporates the theme of The Lesson into the story with very precise wisdom. The Lesson is a brilliant piece of fiction. The theme and symbolic elements will hopefully help this short story, stand the test of time. Bambara was able to express and show different views on life by bringing a few poor city kids into a ritzy toy store. This is a short story that should be read by all in hopes to educate today's children.

"The Lesson" by Toni Bambara

1350 words - 5 pages In the short story, "The Lesson," Toni Bambara reveals the injustice in society in the United States through the eyes of young ghetto children. A field trip to an expensive toy store exposes the bitter truth of society; not everyone has an equal opportunity to make money. In the children's view, everyone should have an equal standard of living. Toni Bambara effectively articulates the unfairness of economic inequality through the use of three

Discussing symbolism in the "lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara, And of Clay are we created by Isabel Allende and Hills like white elephant by Ernest Hemingway

1068 words - 4 pages Symbolism is one of the most important literary terms used often by many writers to convey their central idea. According to the Longman Contemporary Dictionary, symbolism can be defined as a device that evokes more than a literal meaning from a person, object, image or word. The author Isabel Allende in his short story, "And of Clay are we created," Toni Cade Bambara in "The lesson" and finally Ernest Hemingway the author of the short story

Hope in The Lesson, by Toni Cade Bambera

1467 words - 6 pages gave the story a real quality to it. The world as seen through the eyes of a pre-teen, streetsmart kid, and the realization that there was still a lot to learn in an unfair world. Every character was well defined, and seemed to have a life of their own. It was a very easy to comprehend story which I believe should be a staple, if not requirement, in every urban public school Work Cited Bambara, Toni Cade. “The Lesson.” Literature and society: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction. Pamela J Annas and Robert C. Rosen. 4th Edition. Upper Saddle River, N.J 2007. P. 647-653

Toni Cade Bambara

703 words - 3 pages financial institutions collapsing. Bambara, born in 1939, experienced the backlashes of the great depression as a small child. Growing up poor, Bambara was encouraged by her mother to explore her imagination, to daydream and to follow her inner motives. The Lesson, a short story written by Bambara, is about a young girl named Silvia that over the course of one afternoon, she is forced to an unpleasant awareness of the unfairness of the social and

Title: Sylvia's Acceptance of a Lesson Through Stubbornness ; Book: The Lesson ; Author: Toni Cade Bambara

1791 words - 7 pages between the rich and the poor. Although Sylvia's stubbornness prevented her from learning Miss Moore's lesson at first, the other children, especially Sugar, seemed to have interest in it and learned something that day.But Sylvia didn't want to be beaten at anything so she finally gave in and learned the lesson with the rest of the group."Like her works in other genres, Bambara's short stories primarily aim at truth speaking, particularly as truth

Toni Cade Bambara's The Lesson

3832 words - 15 pages upbringings. Bambara shows Sylvia’s frustration with her situation through these words, and gives her purpose of narration a more enhanced meaning. Probably the most common and obvious aspect of AAE, the omission of tense markers and the alteration of the “being” verb, are of the most prevalent issues with language in this short story. In her article, “The Role of Dialect Representation in Speaking from the Margins: “The Lesson” of Toni Cade

Similar Essays

The Lesson, By Toni Cade Bambara

1090 words - 4 pages , “And then she gets to the part about we all poor and live in the slums, which I don’t feature. And I’m ready to speak on that, but she steps out in the street and hails two cabs just like that” (Bambara 91). This egocentric behavior and attitude is prominent in the story, which makes the lesson of the story to break down. Improper language utilization makes it hard to follow the central lesson of the story. The author makes use of broken English

"The Lesson" By Toni Cade Bambara

1829 words - 7 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

The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara

1318 words - 5 pages 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

Knowledge And Poverty In The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara

1221 words - 5 pages Toni Cade Bambara addresses how knowledge is the means by which one can escape out of poverty in her story The Lesson. In her story she identifies with race, economic inequality, and literary epiphany during the early 1970’s. In this story children of African American progeny come face to face with their own poverty and reality. This realism of society’s social standard was made known to them on a sunny afternoon field trip to a toy store on