Short Story Analysis: The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara

The lesson learned from Bambara “The Lesson”, is unfairness based on the social, economic status where children undergo a lot of suffering. For instance, Miss Moore goes with the children in an expensive store for toys yet they cannot afford to buy them. The children are amazed at how people spend a lot of money on buying the luxuries such as toys. The children are required to use so much etiquette when in the store, which makes them very uncomfortable. Their only connection is with the poor people whom they live with and are not used to an expensive and luxurious life. Miss Moore tells them that they can also reach that status and enjoy all the comforts of the world just like the rich people. The children can also correct the inequalities of wealth distribution in the world.

The story exposes the problem facing African Americans of social inequality and poor education standards for black children. Poverty does not mean that people are stupid, and the teacher is empowering the children to make their future bright and successful. Through visiting the store, the children were able to see the importance of education and how their lives can turn to be if they succeed in their education. The children have desires just like any other kids from wealthy families. The children do not see the importance of education and think that the teacher is wasting their time and preventing them from having fun. The narrator has a very bad attitude towards the teacher as portrayed by the description “Back in the days …, this lady moved on our block with nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup” (Bambara, n.p). Later, the narrator changes her attitude and sees the teacher as somebody who can change their lives for better.


Bambara, T.G. (1972). Bambara’s “The Lesson”.

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