ectsA social activist, writer, teacher, and graduate from Queens College, Toni Cade, who later changed legally to Toni Cade Bambara, is one of the representatives of the Afro- American writers and black socially political black activist in American history. She has made many contributions to the inner city especially in her own upbringing in Bed- Stuy, NY and Harlem where she was born, March 25, 1939. Growing up in what was then one of the roughest cities she managed to succeed in life with her many accomplishments but not without the help of her two dearest mentors for whom she cared greatly.
Miss Naomi and Miss Gladys, both whom were there during her adolescence to give her advice on life whether it be simple or complicated. Like in her famous, Gorilla My Love, she also wrote poetry, you might recognize one her famous The Black Woman. (Morrison108-109). Toni Cade Bambara’s The Lesson is a short story about a group of young kids in the inner-city experiencing what it is like when you are deprived of a world with no limits, which I believe is true because I have experienced it first hand myself without someone their to show it to me. Sylvia, the main character, is being taught a lesson on discrimination and what it is like to be out of poverty and in a high class white society by Miss Moore, a close but not a true friend of her parents. Her cousin known as Sugar and her friends Rosie, Giraffe, Mercedes, FlyBoy, and Junebug accompanies Sylvia.
In this story Toni Cade starts off by stating who’s who and then gets into the plot which takes place in a toy store. Miss Moore takes them to the store by cab, They head to Fith Avenue and in the cab Miss Moore tries to teach Sylvia some arithmetic as she asks her to give the taxi cab driver 10 percent of what she owes as a tip. After ignoring her, they all make it to the toy store and by this time in the story Sylvia has made many rude remarks about others and comes off as a bully who seems to know all. She hesitates to get into the store because she is not familiar to her surroundings and when she finally does she makes a fool of herself as her and two of her friends fall in the store trying to get in noticing all of the neat and expensive toys they knew nothing about. Miss Moore is noticing all of this along with their frantic behavior except for Sylvia as she seems to catch on and doesnt want Miss Moore to take the satisfaction of seeing her act this way knowing where she comes from. Yet she knows nothing about the lesson being taught which is the true climax of the story.Order now
This short story may be short but it also is very difficult to read. It is one of those stories some may need to read once to get it and others may need to look over it several times before they get the main idea. I believe it also has much to do with stereotype as well as the fact that it has to do with money and the power the upper and even middle class posses. I say this because in this short story Sylvia stereotypes many characters in this story for example she states that Miss Moore is a hypocrite with nappy hair. She also claims that she is too black in skin tone to say she is as black as knight. She also criticizes Aunt Gretchen as she says she is sort of a dumb goofball that is the type of person you would send to do some foolishness.
Let us not forget the manner in which she starts the beginning of the lesson as she claims everyone to be as old and stupid or young and foolish, and yet the irony of it is she was the foolish looking of them all along with her friends as compared to the upper and middle class whites not living in the ghetto as she did. They stereotype to .