All interesting authors expose their readers to experience the essence of the story. In this case, Toni Cade Bambara uses the illustration of her short story “The Lesson”, in order to convey the reality of a 1960’s ghetto, African American community through the eyes of a young girl named Sylvia. Sylvia is a young, fearless girl who has an audacious and outspoken nature despite her constant use of profanity and insulting judgments of Miss Moore.
Moreover, Toni Bambara’s technique of literacy in this piece is written in a way that transport the readers to another cultural setting that is condemned by a helpless cycle of economic poverty, which Miss Moore attempts to prevent for the future generation. In addition, Toni Cade Bambara uses her colorful style of tone to express the realism and individualistic characteristic of the urban black community of the 1960s through the use of AAVE, which stands for “African American Vernacular English. ” Through this unique style of writing, Toni Bambara’s goal is to challenge or even question society of its unfair economy.
Admittedly, it is true that these kids have inherited poor values from their parents. “It also touches on the irresponsibility of lower class parents when it comes to raising their children (Friedman 2). ” This is where Miss Moore, the antagonist, comes in. She tries to show these kids what it means to have opportunity to be successful and have a nice life. “She’d been to college and said it was only right that she should take responsibility for the young ones’ education. And she not even related by marriage or blood (pg. 183).
” The author portrays Miss Moore as being a proper adult figure for the kids as she shows them the world other than the one they live in. In the beginning of the story, many readers are startled at the fact that Sylvia explicitly uses profanity like it is apart of her everyday speech. She states, “And the starch in my pinafore scratching the shit outta me and I’m really hating this nappy-head bitch and her goddam college degree (pg. 183). ” Toni wanted to make Sylvia seem as realistic as possible, and with Sylvia’s lower class, ghetto background speaking properly would not seem as authentic to the setting and situation.
As an African American herself, Bambara portrays Sylvia almost as a realistic figure influenced by her childhood. “This dialect emphasizes the children’s distance from mainstream white bourgeois culture and economic power. However, Bambara also celebrates AAVE to express her self-confidence, assertiveness, and creativity as a young black women (Janet Ruth Heller 1). ” At first, Sylvia gives off the impression of being stubborn and loud. She is adverse to Miss Moore’s teachings because simply, she doesn’t understand the underlying messages that Miss Moore attempts to teach these kids.
During the exposition, Sugar answers Miss Moore’s question by saying, “I think… that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don’t it? (pg. 188)” This moment is the turning point in which changes Sylvia from being a talker to a listener. Although the lesson doesn’t immediately make sense to her, she eventually runs off to let it sink in. After reading the story, the reader is left with a feeling of anticipation for the kids and their future outcome. Although humorous, the story brings up a serious issue of poverty and the economic disparity that these kids experience.
Furthermore, at the conclusion of the story Sylvia states, “We started from the block and she gets ahead which is O. K. by me cause I’m goin to the West End and then over to the Drive to think this day through. She can run if she want to and even run faster. But ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin (pg. 188). ” This moment represents hope for Sylvia’s future and her drive to pursue a life other than the one she was brought up to. In this way, Toni wants to convey a message of hope to all kids in Sylvia’s position and that they have to chance to break away from the cycle of poverty and be successful.
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