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

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 Miss Moore brings the children to FAO Schwartz is captured in Bambara's use of symbolism. Miss Moore uses the toys in FAO Schwartz to convey to the kids where they are on the social ladder. Outside of the toy shop, the children stare at a number of very expensive toys; some of them include a paperweight and a sailboat which symbolize the facts that wealth is not equally distributed and education that and hard work can one day earn the children these things they see.Initially, none of the children, especially Sylvia, know what the paperweight is. She says to herself that, "my eyes tell me it's a chunk of glass cracked with something heavy, and different-color inks dripped into the splits, then the whole thing put into a oven or something. But for $480 it don't make sense" (110). After Miss Moore explains "it's to weigh paper down so it won't scatter and make your desk untidy" (110) the children still cannot comprehend its use or price. Sylvia could not understand having an expensive paperweight to weigh papers; moreover, most of the children do not own a desk and would not even have any use for the paperweight. Junebug says, "I don't even have a desk" (110) showing that wealth is unevenly distributed. Some people have enough to spend that much on a paperweight, while others can not even afford a desk to do their homework on. Miss Moore knows that the kids do not have a desk at home to place their papers on, and they also do not do their homework. Big Butt says, "And I don't get no homework neither" (110).Bambara uses the paperweight to symbolize the importance of education. Through education the children can create a better life, one in which their basic needs are met. To them four hundred dollars is a life's worth of work, and it is unfathomable. The price of their future is going to be something that they will have to strive for and look past their current dwellings. The paperweight can also symbolize that Miss Moore is trying to control them and put them in order, just as a paperweight organizes papers. When the kids arrived in Manhattan, Miss Moore tells them to, "report back to the group," (111) showing she is trying to organize them.Similarly, the sailboat is also used by Bambara to represent the journey that lies in front of the kids. Sylvia says the sailboat, "is just big enough to maybe sail two kittens across the pond if you strap them to the post tight"...

Find Another Essay On Symbolism in "The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara.

Rich versus Poor in The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara

1759 words - 7 pages rich and the poor, which is the main lesson of the day. Works Cited Bambara, Toni, Cade. The Lesson. New York: The Continuum Publishing Corporation, 1972. Butler-Evans,Elliott. Race,Gender,and Desire:Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara,Toni Morrison,and Alice Walker. Philadelphia:Temple UP,1989. Cartwright, Jerome. “Bambara’s ‘The Lesson.’ The Explicator 47.3 (Spring 1989): 61-64. Literature Resource Center. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

1791 words - 7 pages day.List of Works CitedBambara, Toni Cade. "The Lesson." Literature and the Writing Process. Eds. Elizabeth McMahan. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999. 457 - 461.Butler-Evans, Elliott. Race, Gender, and Desire. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989Cartwright, Jerome. "Bambara's The Lesson." The Explicator Spring 1989: 61 - 63.Hargrove, Nancy D. "Youth in Toni Cade Bambara's Gorilla, My Love." Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 88.

Toni Cade Bambara

703 words - 3 pages Toni Cade Bambara Toni Cade Bambara was a native of New York City who devoted her life to her writing and her social activism. Throughout her career, Bambara used her writings to convey social and political messages about the welfare of the African-American community and of African-American women especially. According to Alice A. Deck in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, the author was "one of the best representatives of the group of

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 characters like Junebug and Q.T. I would have expected that the author create a link between these individuals and the central lesson of the story.   Works Cited Bambara, Toni Cade. The Lesson. 1972. 90-95.

Symbolism And Theme In "The Lesson" By Toni Cade Bambara 1972

994 words - 4 pages The Lesson is considered by the Literary Canon to be a wonderful work of fiction because of its use of language, humanistic theme, symbolism, and non-genre plot. Two essential elements that add to the depth and enhance a reader's comprehension of The Lesson are Bambara's use of symbolism and theme. The Lesson takes place in New York's inner city. The fictional story begins with a group of poor, uneducated, lower class city kids standing in front

"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