’s The Lesson Essay, Research Paper
In Life, education comes in all forms. A major theme of Toni Cade Barbara’s The Lesson is that the most valuable lessons in life are those not learned in the classroom. This story is about an educated black women, named Ms. Moore, who takes the poor and underprivileged neighborhood children to FAO Schwarz. The children don t want to go, but are forced to go by their parents. This theme is presented to us by the use of the three characters Ms. Moore, Sylvia and Mercedes.
Ms. Moore is the educated women that moves into the neighborhood. She is opposite of everyone else who lives in the neighborhood. Sylvia says, And she was black as hell cept for her feet, which were fish white and spooky. Bambara uses this quote to symbolize how Ms. Moore is black, and that she is their connection to the white community. This quote also represents how ironic it is that Ms Moore is their connection to the white community. The name Moore symbolizes that Ms. Moore is a person who wants more from her children. Through out the whole story she is trying to get through to the children, but they could care less. Ms. Moore did not think she was going to reach anyone, until at the end when she reached Sylvia. That’s the whole irony of the story. Sylvia who least wanted to go wound up learning the lesson.
Sylvia is the narrator and the main character of the story. One can learn right away that Sylvia is not fond of Ms. Moore and could care less about the trip to FAO Schwarz. This is very ironic considering This trip had the biggest effect on Sylvia. Bambara illustrates this by the tone and language of Sylvia’s narration. Her use of slang terms and curse words clearly indicate where she has grown up and her dislike of Ms. Moore. For example, Sylvia says, I m really hating this nappy head bitch and her goddamn college degree. Sylvia talks about how Ms. Moore says that they all live in the slums and that they are poor. Sylvia does not agree with this. Ms. Moore is devaluing what the children have and this enrages Sylvia. For example, when they get to FAO Schwarz Sylvia sees the price of the sail boat and can t believe it. The money that would be went for the sailboat would be enough to make her and her family happy, and this infuriates her. Once in the store , Sylvia starts to feel ashamed and jealous. After the trip is over Sylvia realizes something. Sugar says , you know Ms. Moore, I don t think all of us here put together eat in a year what that sailboat cost. Sylvia gets angry by this comment because sugar, her best friend is now devaluing what they have. Sylvia starts stepping on Sugar s feet. Bambara uses this to symbolize how the upper class community walk all over the lower class community. After this Ms. Moore looks at Sylvia and Sylvia feels something in her chest. This is the point of revelation. Bambara ends the story with Sylvia saying, Aint nobody gonna beat me at nutting. This shows how Sylvia went through a revelation. She realizes that she has to proud of who she is. Nobody will walk all over her and she will succeed at whatever it is that she wants to do. She understands that she should be proud of what she is and not try to be like someone else.
Mercedes is another character who I want to talk about. Once she see s how the upperclass community lives , she immediately wants to be a part of it. Bambara shows this when all the other children are hesitant to walk in FAO Schwarz and Mercedes pushes them all away to go right in. The name Mercedes is ver symbolic to what kind of person Mercedes is. A Mercedes is an expensive car that rich people have. She wants to be able to provide all those things for herself and her family. She is the very opposite of Sylvia. Mercedes says, I’d like to go back there when I get my birthday money. She wants to be a person in the wealthy community, Not just be happy for what she has and who she is. It is evident that Mercedes is an outcast in the group This becomes apparent when Sylvia and Sugar push her to the mailbox to be separated from them.
The major theme of The Lesson is how life’s most important lesson are not always learned in the classroom. Bambara presented this theme by Using those three characters expecially Sylvia. Sylvia learned how she has to have pride in who she is and to succeed by being herself, not pretending to be someone else. This is The Lesson that Ms. Moore was trying to get through to the children.