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“The Lesson” Analysis Essay

The lesson is the first-person narrative of the young protagonist, Janie. Toni Cade Bambara uses the story to explore the impact of racism and sexism on the life of a black woman growing up in the rural South during the 1940s and 1950s. The author writes about how Janie’s family struggled with poverty, but her father found work that provided for them until he was injured at work. He then becomes bitter and abusive, which causes Janie to feel ashamed because she believes she can’t escape her situation by marrying someone else or moving away from home.

Essay 1

A short story is a form of literary writing that conveys an author’s message in a few pages. As a result, the theme of Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” is the way youngsters learn about social unfairness and its impact. The tale’s title alludes to the tale’s central idea, which is the notion of injustice as a lesson to be learned from children. The aim of “The Lesson” is to show how kids can be taught to notice important social issues that they might otherwise overlook.

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The narrative also shows how youngsters perceive serious, if not dire, circumstances. “The Lesson” depicts a schoolgirl’s day at school, where she and her classmates are taken to an expensive toy store by their teacher who wants to show them the social injustice in their nation. As a consequence of this visit, the objective of the lesson is achieved.

Bambara employs a very effective method in this essay to convey the main ideas: narration. Because it sounds more personal, such a composition pattern makes the tale more evocative. The author employs first person narrative to describe events that are necessary for the plot. The tale is reported from the perspective of a child: “Back in those days when I and Sugar were the only ones just right” (Bambara 85). The tale explores what goes on inside this youngster’s mind: “I’m really furious,” “I’m stalling because I don’t know how to solve it,” and so on (Bambara 88-89).

The narrator is frequently critical of events and other people: “boring-ass stuff” (i.e. teacher’s remarks), “goddamn college degree” (i.e. attitude towards higher education), “poor kid” (i.e. attitude towards a classmate), “magnificent thing” (evaluation of a toy). Of course, it must be noted that the plot is almost conversational in nature . Furthermore, there is a lot of jargon throughout the text: “bloody,” “goddamn,” “jerk,” “bitch,” “ass,” and so on.” It is not chosen by chance. It is used to appeal to the story’s target audience, namely young people who could understand it and reach necessary conclusions. Such a style adds emotion and evocativeness to “The Lesson.”

When young people read the narrative, they may feel that these concepts are relevant to them or their peers. For example, Sylvia’s (the narrator’s) thoughts occur in the mind of every kid or adolescent: it is normal to despise a teacher; hence, the narrator comments that they “kinda hated” their teacher (Bambara 85). Bambara again uses children’s (of suburbs) vernacular when he says “outta,” “Whatcha gonna do?” , and “Givin me one of them grins.”

Of course, this sort of telling will be more accessible to young people. Bambara appeals to youngsters with plain and sometimes informal English, making it easier for her audience to grasp her message and consider this pressing problem. Academic English was not required for the tale’s purpose (to instruct young people) , therefore Bambara utilized the appropriate method and style.

The main idea of the tale is easy to determine because it is clearly expressed. I received the message and noticed how children were taught to see certain cases of wrongdoing. As for the narrative, I was impressed by the teacher’s “teaching approach,” which involved more than simply talking about injustice (Bambara 89).

Children are taught to draw conclusions by this clever woman. They notice injustice in the toy store, for example, when a young girl says, “This is not much of a democracy if you ask me” (Bambara 95). I’d also like to make note of the author’s writing style, which, in my opinion, is very effective. The author employs a child’s perspective to express her thoughts on injustice and as they say, children feel things more keenly than adults do. Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” provides an outstanding opportunity to study about social injustice in the United States. She achieves this aim with the use of such methods as narrative structure pattern and descriptive writing style, which allow her to effortlessly convey her ideas.

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Essay 2


The problem of inequality among people who have varying social backgrounds has been important for many individuals in politics, sociology, and literature. Toni Cade Bambara, an American author and social activist, explores the issue of inequality in one of her short stories called “The Lesson.” This paper provides a brief summary of “The Lesson” as well as attempts to apply literary techniques used by the author to illustrate the topic.

“The Lesson”: Brief Summary

A teacher engages in an unusual teaching technique and takes a group of sick African-American youngsters to a pricey toy shop, which serves as the main plot location. The toys sold there might easily cover all of the kids’ and their families’ regular expenses. As a result, when the youngsters observe that there are people who can buy such exorbitantly priced trifles and not go bankrupt, they are astonished.

The children learn the lesson of economic disparity based on racial and social preconceptions for the first time in their lives. The importance of teaching poor youngsters about the injustice of their condition is at the heart of “The Lesson.” The relevance of the dispute may be seen in Bambara’s approach to her narrative, audience, and purpose.

Literary Analysis of “The Lesson”

The most important feature of Bambara’s narrative is the manner she uses to convey her ideas and viewpoint. “The Lesson” is written in the first person, allowing readers to get closer to the events described in the tale and to sympathize with the narrator. The way the narrator sees the surrounding environment and people can be seen from the opening sentences of the story.

Toni Bambara uses a diverse range of vernacular to add context to her characters. The text contains numerous examples of informal speech. Words such as “nappy hair,” “junkman,” and “winos” are used by the narrator, implying her social origins from the outskirts of the city (Bambara 1148). The narrator’s lack of formal education in terms of good manners is reflected in words like “bitch” and “goddamn,” which show a lack of respect for others (Bambara 1149).

The author successfully creates the illusion of live speech addressed directly to the reader by preserving original colloquial constructions like “some kind of form” or “what are you going to do?” (T.Bambara 1148, 1150). As a result, Bambara creates a loser kid from a bad neighborhood who is poorly brought up with vivid language and an unceremonious tone of the tale. The poor people who live in the story’s setting might be the target audience, as it appears that they are unsophisticated, hurt by the difficulties of daily existence, and like the story narrator. Simple, not interested in deciphering all of the complicated language jargon.

In one of Bambara’s stories, a blind young woman sells tools in the market to pay for her brother’s medical care. She is treated with respect and given a voice by being addressed in their own language. Such people should be addressed in a way that is familiar and meaningful to them, and Bambara — through the narrator of the tale — treats them as equals, addressing them in their native tongue. Appealing to such an audience aids Bambara’s primary objective: to make it clear to the poor and afflicted that their current living situation is unjust.

It is no surprise that the first reactions of the children brought to the shop are wonder and shock at the exorbitant prices for such simple and apparently useless items as a paperweight or a toy sailboat. On this trip into the rich person’s world, Bambara demonstrates how unjust and unfair it is when some individuals have barely anything to eat while others can afford to buy costly trifles just for fun.


This essay examined Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson.” The text’s major theme is the need to expose the huge gap that separates rich from poor. Once sick children realize there is a divide, they begin investigating its causes. And once they understand why things are as they are, they can take action to alleviate their suffering and improve their lives and families’ standards of living. Living in the dark about reality is only keeping poor people down; only if they know the truth can low-income folks expect better times.

Essay 3

The major topic in Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” is teaching adolescents about all of life’s possibilities, a lesson on social class and the importance of choice in society. Miss. Moore, who has been given the duty of instructing the children, has aspirations beyond simply taking them to the shop for fun. Miss Moore’s non-traditional lessons are intended to educate local youngsters about the differences between their own and wealthy white children’s lives, yet Miss Moore also wants them to understand that they may live the luxe lifestyle.

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The author’s use of symbolism throughout “The Lesson” is an important component that adds to the depth and improves a reader’s comprehension of the work. Sylvia, the story’s narrator, is a born leader who resents the arrival of Miss Moore in her life. The appearance of Miss Moore in her life causes conflict for Sylvia. The term “black woman” refers to someone who is black in terms of race rather than gender or culture.

She has no first name, but she is always addressed as such. She has “nappy hair and correct language with no make-up” (Bambara 98). The neighbors are unsure how to react to her, which is reflected in Sylvia’s statement that she resembles someone to laugh at, “the way we did at the rubbish collector,” who is considered haughty and acting above his station (Bambara 98). Miss Moore is also characterized as a detestable obstacle, similar to the winos who “cluttered up” our parks and urinated on our handball walls (Bambara 98).

Sylvia’s hatred of Miss Moore is apparent from the narrative. The people in the neighborhood are ambivalent about Miss Moore, but her parents allow her to take the kids on a trip. During the summer months, Miss Moore takes it upon herself to help educate the children further by using F. A. O. Schwarz, a rather costly toy shop. She felt this was part of her civic duty as a result of her education and taught them at F. A. O. Schwarz, a very expensive toy store, to teach them a lesson and inspire them to strive for success and attempt to better themselves and their situations.

The contrast between the children’s neighborhood and the toy store’s neighborhood is first shown by the fact that white people on Fifth Avenue don fur coats and tights even on a scorching summer’s day. “Then we looked around to see if anyone was dressed up in stockings. On Fifth Avenue, everyone was in stockings (Bambara 99). The children are thrown off balance in this community, as though they were visiting a strange nation where even the temperature is different.

In “To Miss Moore, education is the key to a better life and more money. To Sylvia, being educated means seeing things as they really are. Both Sylvia and Miss Moore have a great deal of pride. According to Sylvia, when Miss Moore refers to their neighborhood as a slum and their families as impoverished, she demonstrates contempt for them. The fact that the piano was hired indicates that Sylvia’s family is working toward improved circumstances. Misbehavior on this point could be interpreted by readers who don’t see why others think their lifestyle choices are superior or more acceptable than those of other people.

Miss Moore is looking to alter people’s perceptions of social inequality through her tale. She urges the youngsters to question what they are given by society and demand more from it. By the conclusion of the story, both Sylvia and Sugar have made their points. Sylvia understands that she feels competitive with not only Miss Moore, but also with her good friend Sugar, who is eager to return to her old ways after gaining some unexpected insights about the day. Rather of going along with Sugar, Sylvia decides to go alone and makes a vow to herself that no one will surpass her in the future.

The Lesson is a wonderful work of fiction because of its language, humanistic theme, and symbolism, all of which are represented by ‘Ms. Moore’s character,’ with her emphasis on education. The traditional, fatalist acceptance of economic circumstances by the poor was personified in “The Lesson” as Ms. Moore’s character, with her emphasis on education.

Essay 4

Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” is a coming-of-age story that revolves around the themes of finding oneself and learning about life. The main idea in “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara is to teach teens about all of life’s possibilities, particularly social class and having a choice as to which society they live in. Miss. Moore, who is entrusted with educating the youngsters, has more on her mind than just transporting the children to the shop for fun.

To teach neighborhood youngsters how their lives are different from those of rich, white children, Ms. Moore offers unstructured classes in her home. She instructed them a lesson and inspired them to aim for success and try to better themselves and their situations at F.A.O. Schwarz, a rather pricey toy store. The vast disparities between the kids’s area and the toy store’s neighborhood are first highlighted by the fact that even on a hot summer day, white people on Fifth Avenue wear furs and stockings.

“Then we inquire about the location, which is on Fifth Avenue, and everyone is in stockings. There’s one woman in a fur coat, despite the fact that it’s summertime” (Bambara 99). The children are thrown off balance by this neighborhood because it acts like a foreign country where even the approach to temperature is different. Education was the key to more money and better social conditions for Miss Moore.

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Being educated to Sylvia means seeing things as they are. Both women, like Bambara mentioned, have a great deal of pride. When Miss Moore refers to their neighborhood as a slum and their families as poor, Sylvia believes she is being discourteous. The phrase piano rental has suggested that Sylvia’s family is working toward improved circumstances through the reference to the piano rental business.

Miss Moore sees the youngsters’ acceptance of their economic condition as ignorance, and their lack of respect for their race as contempt for their race. Miss Moore wants to modify these beliefs, especially since she believes that they are responsible for keeping them down. Both of these characters have made clear by the conclusion of the tale.

Essay 5

In Toni Cade Bambara’s short story “The Lesson,” the author illustrates the basic existence of distinct social classes and wealth allocation in striking detail. The subject of this narrative emphasizes the uneven distribution of money between various social groups in America, how this division frequently mirrors racial differences, and how critical it is to educate people about this gap. It also strives to inspire individuals not to become complacent, but instead to aim for greater success and respect in society. Sylvia, the protagonist, initially has a rebellious attitude in the story. However, she ultimately discovers an interest in comparing social classes.

The kids are perplexed at how white people can be so cruel to one another. They have noticed the difference between their neighborhood and the shopping center where white people shop. The youngsters remark or believe, “white folks are crazy” because they fail to comprehend how the white people live (para. 3). The group’s consciousness of how democratic ideals and equal opportunity have failed minorities begins to grow.

Sugar remarks to Miss Moore after returning from the trip, “I believe that this isn’t much of a democracy if you ask me. Isn’t it true that having an equal chance to pursue happiness implies an equal shot at the money?” (para. 51). Here Bambara is attempting to illustrate how it’s typically more difficult for blacks than whites to reach higher ranks and that white people are far more likely to control a majority of the nation’s wealth.

Bambara contrasts the distinctions between white and black people with the use of children’s improper and profane language, as well as with the white people’s superior clothing. The social gap was so wide that the kids felt embarrassed and hesitant to go into any toy shop. Even though Sylvia tells herself before going into the store that she has “as much right to go in as anybody,” she clearly does not believe herself, because she feels a “funny” shame and struggles to enter (para. 40).

Sylvia’s shop in the Roederer Wine Estate is a power structure that she has created and maintains through fear. This feeling of inferiority may be unconscious or at least unwilling to acknowledge in herself. As a result, rather than just telling the children about the gap between social classes in America, Miss Moore decides to demonstrate it to them herself. The children’s trip to F.A.O. Schwarz and seeing how much toys cost, regardless of whether they were aware of it or not, altered their perception on their own lives and position in society when compared to other people from different social classes.

Children were astonished to discover what other people spend on toys alone, and it inspired much debate. In a way, they were enraged by it. When Sylvia learns how much the sailboat costs, she complains that this irritates her (para. 26). And when they go into the shop, Sylvia is envious of the boat and wishes to “punch someone in the mouth” (para. 41).

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