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The Lesson Essay

In “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, the author writes about Sylvia’s childhood experience as a student. She is a young-immature, uneducated, and naive kid who doesn’t know much about life, but her teacher tries to help her by giving her a lesson of reality as well to the rest of her students. She describes her teacher as a lady, Miss Moore, with “nappy hair,” “proper speech,” and “no makeup. ” Sylvia explains how she feels when she goes to toy store in Fifth Avenue. For example, she says that she feels confused and shamed of being in the store because the writer notates that the store is made for wealthy people.

Sylvia’s vocabulary in the literature is very unusual because she expresses her feelings with streets slang. Furthermore, the author explains Sylvia’s economic situation, and Sylvia’s preferences for playing on the streets with her friends instead of going to school. However, by the end of the story, Sylvia learns the meaning of self-motivation. People, things, and attitudes might help to motivate someone to become something in life, but it is up to that someone to become that something. The main character of the story is Sylvia. She is a kid who considers games the only important thing in her life.

Paragraph one emphasizes some of the author’s hobbies and ethnicity. She says that she hates the winos because they cluttered up the parks where her friends and she used to play. She argues that her new teacher is black as well (462). “As well. ” she refers of Sylvia as a black kid too. In paragraph three, Sylvia says that she would rather go to the pool or the show where it is cool instead of listen Miss Moore’s arithmetic lesson (463). Another main characteristic of Sylvia is her poor vocabulary. She uses slang and metaphorical language.

For example, in paragraph one, she mentions that her cousin “who lived on the block cause we all moved North the same time and to the same apartment then spread out gradual to breathe” (462). She uses “cause” instead of because, and when she uses the expression “gradual to breathe”, she is referring to the space of the apartment. In other words, she tries to say that there is enough space to fit all of her family in her apartment without having luxury. Also, she uses expressions like “let up”, “gofer”, “shit outta me”, “nappy-head bitch”, and others. Another main characteristic of Sylvia is that she doesn’t make use of her values properly.

For example, when she steals the $4 that her teacher gave her to pay the taxi, values are missing. Sylvia just wants to buy barbeque instead of paying the taxi. In paragraph forty, Sylvia lies about a boarder taking a shower when in reality sugar was tied up in the shower, and her aunt caught her lying. Sylvia is a young kid who only cares for games, but the teacher will show her the real meaning of life later in the literature. The main conflict of the story is when Miss Moore tries to give lessons of how democracy works to her students, but Sylvia refuses to go along with them and makes it more complicated.

There are two types of conflicts in the author’s writing. The first one is the internal conflict, and the second one the external conflict. The internal conflict is within Sylvia’s perspective. For example, when Miss Moore tries to explain to her students what money is, Sylvia takes the question as an insult (463). She thinks that the teacher’s purposes of making the question is to treat her students as uneducated kids, but what the teacher really tries to say is what money really is, why it is so important in people’s life, how people expend it, and why.

The external conflict is between the author vs. the real world. In paragraph twenty six, Sylvia expresses that the boat price makes her angry, but she doesn’t know why (464). In paragraph 40, she says that she feels funny and shame when she walks in to the toy store (465). At the beginning of the writing, Sylvia doesn’t want to accept the concept of Miss Moore, “Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough” (465), but by the end of the story she finally gets the lesson.

Sylvia says in the last paragraph that she doesn’t care for the $4 that she stole from her teacher, and she wants to think the day through (466). “The Lesson” is a literature that shows the main character another face of the world. By Sylvia going to the toy store, she realizes that there are people out there who have better economic status than her. She acknowledges the opportunities that her democratic country can offer her such as equal opportunity to get far in life.

The settings of the story are very detailed and help the readers understand better that Sylvia is a poor black kid from the North who doesn’t know better about life. For instances, in paragraph 1 the protagonist, Sylvia, describes the park where she and her friends play hide-and-seek. This setting helps the reader to understand that the protagonist of the story is a young teenager kid who rather goes to the park than summer school. The story also makes it clear that Sylvia and her friends are in summer school somewhere in New York close to alley Pond Park or Central Park.

With all of settings details that the author tells in the story, readers can interpret that the story probably took place in the 70s or bel because in paragraph 3, the author emphasizes that the taxi ride cost 0. 85 cents. Furthermore, almost by the end of the story, the author describes that the toy store is located on Fifth Avenue which is an avenue in New York City where the most expensive stores are located. Miss Moore takes the kids to the toy store with the purpose of teaching her students that there are people out there in the world who had worked hard enough to reach the type of life style that they ever wanted.

Languages devices throughout the story help the readers understand more about the protagonist background and message of the story. For instance, the expensive sailboat in “The Lesson” symbolizes frivolous uses of money and teaches Sylvia about the economic difference status that exits in her society. It also shows her that everyone is capable of getting anything in life as long one chooses the right path to success. Another language device found in the story is imagery which is emphasized in paragraph one when Sylvia describes Miss Moore’s feet as “fish-white and spooky” (462).

By Sylvia’s slang and words, the readers conclude that Miss Moore’s feet are very white and Sylvia dislike them. Also the audience realize that the protagonist is an immature kid that doesn’t know better about people. Furthermore, Diction is found almost on each paragraph of the story. For instance, when sugar says, “Back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish and me and Sugar were the only ones just right… ” (462), it gives the readers an idea of the protagonist’s culture, education, and personality.

It seems that Sylvia is a young kid who doesn’t understand the stages of life and the opportunities that she has to become a successful adult until her teacher takes her to the toy story. In conclusion, “The lesson” seems to be a teaching story to kids who don’t have ambition in their life to explore the word and its opportunities. The author makes it very clear that people are what they want to be and what they work for. For instance, in paragraph forty five Miss Moore emphasizes that “we are who we are[,] but it don’t necessarily have to be that way” (466).


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