Loss Of Innocence In Toni Cade Bambara's "The Lesson"

932 words - 4 pages

Democracy implies equal chance for all. Such is not the case for the black children of the ghetto, as we learn through reading Toni Cade Bambara's "The Lesson". During the course of the story the narrator, Sylvia, develops as a character due to the trip that Miss Moore takes her on. Miss Moore, an educated black woman who comes to the ghetto to give back to the children, takes children from the ghetto of New York to F.A.O Shwarz which is an extremely glamorous toy store. She does this to make the children aware of their social and economical situations by forcing them to face the difference between them and the people who would purchase toys from such a store that would sell a toy sail boat for over a thousand dollars. The theme of this story is very similar to the lesson Miss Moore is trying to teach the children. It is that through the loss of innocence and naiveté that poor black children can have a chance to stand up and fight for their piece of the pie. In "The Lesson" all the children come from poor families. They live in apartment buildings where drunkards who reek of urine live in the hallways that reek of urine from the drunks who pee on the walls; they live in what Miss Moore would call the "slums." The children's families, however, exhibit somewhat of a varying degree of monetary security. For example, Flyboy claims he doesn't even have a home whilst Mercedes has a desk at home with a box of stationary on it, gifts from her godmother.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 116). Bambara uses this quote to symbolize how Ms. Moore is black, and that she is the children's connection to the white community. This connection is realized through the outing to F.A.O. Shwarz through the realization that white people do not know the value of a dollar. The children, however, surely understand the value of money, and they easily comprehend that the amount of money charged for the toys at F. A. O. Shwarz is astronomical. They compare the handcrafted fiberglass sailboat, which costs $1,195, to the ones they make from a kit, which cost about 50 cents. Sylvia, astonished at the price of the sailboat thinks "That much money should last forever,"(Bambara 119) which opens her eyes with the loss of her innocence and starts becoming infuriated. "White folks crazy"(Bambara 121) mumbled Rosie Giraffe."I think," Sugar interrupts Sylvia because she is infuriated with the progress of the day,...

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