Rags and Riches "The Lesson," by Bambara

Essay by Ltamtam4College, UndergraduateA, April 2004

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

Downloaded 92 times

"The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara is a lesson on social class and presents the choice of which society we choose to live in. It examines the realization of economic inequity within America. Bambara creates Ms. Moore, the antagonist, who strives to teach the children what their life could be like. With their consent and desire to achieve, their eyes could be opened to the oppression of the world. Bambara creates a host of characters. These characters help explore and demonstrate the issues that face the poor and the minorities in the United States. Ms. Moore feels that it is, "her responsibility for the young ones' education."(364) Helping the underprivileged children learn is important to her because she was the only woman in the neighborhood to earn a degree.

The children are proud of themselves and of their life. They do not know anything other than what they have been exposed to.

Ms. Moores' purpose for taking the children to the toy store is to show them the value of money and express to them the poverty in which they really lived. Outside the toyshop, the children glare at a number of very expensive toys, which include a paperweight and a sailboat. None of the children realized what the paperweight was actually used for.

Sylvia, the protagonist states, "My eyes tell me its' a chunk of glass cracked with something heavy, and different-color inks dripped into the splits." "But for $480.00 it don't make sense." (366) A paperweight is used to hold something of value, something that one wishes not to lose. The neighborhood children have never known or owned anything as precious.

The poverty the children experience is shown in a more optimistic light. Ms. Moore wants the children to understand that with a strong...