Toni Cade Bambara, born March 25, 1939 in New York City; her mother was Helen Brent Henderson Cade. Bambara adopted that last name when she discovered it on a sketchbook her great-grandmother had. Bambara spent the first ten years of her life in Harlem, New York. In 1973, she published and essay in Redbook explaining what she liked about her mother. Bambara is an activist, novelist, writer, essayist, and a filmmaker. Bambara was influenced by her work as a social worker in the 1960’s. Bambara knew how the black community had been neglected and abused in the American society.
Bambara became devoted to her community; she wrote primarily for her black community and in black dialect. Toni Cade Bambara wrote several short stories, one specifically was “The Lesson,” in this short story; she speaks on how to overcome struggles and stereotyping in the black community. In “The Lesson,” Toni Cade Bambara, uses characterization, style of language and setting; she also shows how she felt about how unfair the American society was through the eyes of a black woman. First, Bambara uses characterization.
In “The Lesson” Bambara developed a strong and positive character who could teach us about valuable lessons in life. This character was a strong black woman named Miss Moore, who taught all the children in her community how to overcome the struggles in their community. Miss Moore first took the children to a store on Fifth Avenue, this store was the most expensive toy store the name of the store was F. A. O. Schwartz. The first life lesson was an expensive handcrafted sailboat, “Hand-crafted sailboat of fiberglass at one thousand one hundred and ninety-five dollars.
” (Bambara) This lesson was to show the children the value of money, and how to value what they have and not what they want. In the second trial Bambara uses style of language, Miss Moore questioned the children on how they felt about the expensive sailboat. One of the characters in the story, Sylvia became upset with Miss Moore because out of all the children, she was the only one to get the point. Sylvia said, “I’m mad, but I won’t give her that satisfaction. So I slouch around bein very bored and say, Let’s go.
”(Bambara) Sylvia realized that Miss Moore wanted them to see what type of environment they lived in and wanted them to think of ways to overcome those struggles in the future. Last, Bambara uses setting, Miss Moore, wanted the children to realize how unfair life was in the American society. Miss Moore wanted the children to see, that they had to overcome the stereotyping and become the opposite of what life was expected out of them. Miss Moore said, “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 six or seven.
What do you think? ” (Bambara) Bambara’s main character knew what life expected out of them and she wanted the children to overcome the struggles, simply by experiencing them. In conclusion, the author felt that living within your society, you have to overcome the stereotyping and become the opposite of what life is expected of you. Toni Cade Bambara wanted her characters in “The Lesson,” to overcome society’s obstacles, cruelty, and devaluation and to discover their strengths, and to have pride within them. Toni Cade Bambara is universal and lives on in today’s society.
Courtney from Study Moose
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