"The Lesson" is a story about one African-American girl's struggle with her growing awareness of class inequality. The character Miss Moore introduces the facts of social inequality to a distracted group of city kids, of whom Sylvia, the main character, is the most cynical. The conflict between Sylvia and Miss Moore, "This nappy-head bitch and her goddamn college degree" (470), represents more than everyday dislike of authority by an adolescent. Sylvia has her own perception of the way things work and does not like to have that invaded. Sylvia knows in the back of her mind she is poor, but it does not bother her until others riches are put in her face. This sparks the lesson in this story "money ain't divided up right in this country" (471).
This is a story from yesterday, when Harlem children didn't have good education or the money to spring for it. Bambara's tells us about a little girl who doesn't really know how to take it when a good teacher finally comes along.
This girl's whole life is within the poverty stricken area and she does not see why she should try hard to succeed in her life. Poverty is a way of life for these children. Children tend not to be naturally aware of inequality; they must come to this knowledge through experience. Our economy is faced with the inequality of education and financial stability in homes.
It is not the fault of our children, it is the fault of the situation they are forced to live in. Single parent, or both parent homes living in substandard conditions. They are either on welfare or the parents or working all day just to make ends meet. No one is at home to help and encourage them to do their best and at...