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The Lesson Essay

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Symbolism in Toni Cade Bambara's The Lesson

Symbols are often use in stories to portray more of a literal meaning. Conventional, literary, and allegory are examples of the different types of symbolism. Symbols can be displayed in many different ways. People, objects, and events are just a few of the ways. Throughout the short story, "The Lesson," Toni Cade Bambara uses symbolism in many areas.

The title, "The Lesson," is one symbol that Bambara uses. Miss. Moore, the teacher with a college degree, takes the kids on a trip to F.A.O. Schwarz. Throughout their trip, Miss. Moore is constantly talking to them about money. Bambara writes, "And Miss Moore asking us do we know what money is, like we bunch of retards" (Bambara 136).…show more content…

"And the starch in my pinafore scratching the shit outta me and I'm really hating this nappy-headed bitch and her goddamn college degree" (Bambara 136). This sentence gives the image that this is a poor, low class neighborhood. The reader is able to identify that this is not a high-class place, but one possibly in the slums. The language is symbolic because it represents the area of the city that the story is taking place. It also lets the reader know what kinds of characters are being presented.
Bambara also uses the character names in "The Lesson" to symbolize what kind of character they will be. One character that she names is Fat Butt. From the name, the reader knows right away that this will be a fat kid who probably eats a lot. Bambara supports this by writing, "Fat Butt was already wasting his peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich like the pig he is" (Bambara 136).
Another name that is symbolic is Mercedes. When someone thinks of a Mercedes, they think of someone being wealthy. Mercedes says, "I do. I have a box of stationary on my desk and a picture of my cat, My godmother bought the stationary and desk. There's a big rose on each sheet and the envelopes smell like roses." All of the kids had replied that had no desk, but Mercedes did. She had a godmother who had bought it for her. By Mercedes saying this, the reader knows that she is from a family who has more money. Also Mercedes takes charge when heading into the toy story. This is a symbol

Essay about Toni Cade Bambara's The Lesson

543 Words3 Pages

Toni Cade Bambara's The Lesson is a very well written piece of history. This is a story from yesterday, when Harlem children didn't have good education or the money to spring for it. Bambara's tale tells about a little girl who doesn't really know how to take it when a good teacher finally does come along. This girl's whole life is within the poverty stricken area and she doesn't see why she must try hard. The teacher, Miss Moore, shows them what it is all about by taking them to a rich toy store, one in which a single toy costs more than year's supply of food.

We immediately learn that Miss Moore is not the average Harlem teacher. She is educated herself, along with being very opinionated. The children explain that she has nappy…show more content…

In a way the children were innocent before Miss Moore came along. They thought that everyone else old, stupid, young, or foolish- while the children were perfect. Miss Moore showed them what they truly were- and why education was so important. The first thing learned is that poverty is a way of life for these children. Although they know they are poor, it doesn't bother them because everyone there is poor. It's okay to be without when there isn't any competition. An example of this is seen when the children talk of their study areas at home. Only one of them actually have a desk and paper, and the others think nothing of it. Instead they tell her to shut up about it. The children are proud of themselves and of their life.

Miss Moore finally leads the kids to the toy store. The are immediately dazzled by the toys in the windows; even declaring which ones they were gonna buy. The children seemed to know they couldn't afford the toys, but they didn't think they would be off by much. The once brave and proud and strong children were hobbled at the door, none of which wanting to go in first. Here is the point where they get slapped in the face. Here is where they first see that they do not belong here. Eventually one of them pushes through the crowd and throws herself into the gallery of toys. They go around gazing at the different objects. Miss Moore drives the point home by leading them to the fact

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