Throughout the story, “The Lesson,” Toni Cade Bambara writes about a young girl named Sylvia and her friends, Flyboy, Fat Butt, Junebug, Sugar and Rosie, who are just beginning to learn about the indifferences between classes in society. Bambara introduces Miss Moore, a black, educated, middle class woman, as their teacher who challenges the children about these lessons and realities of their society. Bambara gives her disparaging views on the irrational differences between the poor and rich social statuses. Though sympathetic to the plight of the poor, Bambara is criticizing the dominant values and beliefs of the poor children’s neighborhood, those of the extravagant rich, and a society in which there is such a huge gap between rich and poor.
Bambara, in the introduction, utilizes her characters to show her opinions about the values and beliefs of the children’s poor neighborhood. She uses the children to represent poor people because it is easier to teach young children lessons. Bambara doesn’t ever give a description of any of the characters except for Miss Moore. Bambara does this to show that there is a bigger idea than a story with a plot, but that all the characters and events in this book represent a larger more important idea. The book begins with Sylvia, the main character and narrator, saying, “Back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young a foolish and me and sugar were the only ones just right…” In this quote, Bambara gives her audience a look into her opinion of how many second class citizens, many being uneducated, look at themselves and the world around. Bambara uses this quote to show that the second class doesn’t see the world and monetary value the same as the wealthy class in society. She shows that the poor look at every dollar more importantly than the wealthy. To the poor, many times, their money can only reach enough to feed their family, where to a wealthy person money might be less significant because a wealthy person has significantly larger fiscal leisure. This is the lesson in which Miss Moore is trying to convey using the toy store She displays the contrast between how each class values money. Sugar says,
Bambara also uses her characters to represent her opinions regarding the upper class and wealthy individuals of society. Miss Moore represents the children’s...