"The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara

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Class Inequality

There comes a time when everybody must experience the discomfort, either positive or negative, in a economic situation. If you come from a low-income family, have you ever found yourself shopping at Saxs Fifth Avenue stores? Or if your wealthy, do you find yourself worry about the prices of such objects? Is this impartial? In the story, "The Lesson" Toni Cade Bambara shows that the reality of the American economic system is unfair.

Bambara illustrates her point that class inequality is unjust through the main character, Sylvia. From the beginning of the story it is clear that Sylvia is a child living in the Harlem projects of New York. Being a part of a distracted group of city kids (Flyboy, Fat Butt, Junebug, Rosie, and Sugar), Sylvia is the most cynical. Poverty is a way of life for these children. Although they know they are poor, it doesn't bother them because everyone they loved around is poor.

It's okay to be without when there isn't any competition is that attitude Sylvia possesses. This character's whole life is within the poverty area and she doesn't see why she must try hard. The teacher, Miss Moore, introduced the facts of social inequality to the group of kids by taking them to F.A.O Schwarz, a rich toy store. The kids thought that "everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish but they were the ones just right"(576). Miss Moore showed them what they truly were. Sylvia knows in her mind that she is poor, but it never bothers her until she sees her disadvantages in contrast with the luxuries of being wealthy. As Miss Moore introduces the world of the rich, Sylvia begins to attribute shame to poverty and this makes her question the "lesson" of the story, how "money...