The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara is a story of a naughty little girl and her gang of kids who were bundled up one summer day to go with Miss Moore to a toy store. Sylvia and her cousin Sugar are with Fat Butt, Rosie Giraffe, Mercedes, Q. T. , Junebug and Flyboy, not their real names but monikers given them by Sylvia. The names came from their most obvious trait, Fat Butt for his fondness for food, Mercedes for her ritzy tastes, Q. T. , is the youngest, and Rosie Giraffe is always ready to kick asses. One may guess Sugar is for her being the exact opposite of sourly Sylvia.
Miss Moore wants to teach the kids about money, specifically, how much of it can buy what. Her objective really is to make them see how much they can not afford compared with what the rest of their fellow citizens can, half of which are whites. If there is one thing that can sure catch the interest of kids, it is a toy. So Miss Moore took them to an upscale toy store at Fifth Avenue, when all the toys the kids knew and had were from Pop’s. The tone of the story is sarcastic all throughout, from the first person point of view of Sylvia.
Bambara’s style is effective in her portrayal of Sylvia, as a little Black, spoiled brat who has a vocabulary peppered with cuss words such as “sorry-ass, goddamn, boring-ass, dumb shit, smelly-ass, smart-ass, nappy-head bitch, scratching the shit out of me” and who believes that “white folks crazy. ” She uses similes to introduce Miss Moore who is “black as hell” and whom “grownups … talked behind her back like a dog. ” With the story, Bambara takes the readers to pore into the psyche of a child born on the on the other side of the tracks.
The reader would think that it is a gang member speaking instead of a precocious kid from the block when she says “she would much rather … go to the Sunset and terrorize the West Indian kids and take their hair ribbons and their money too. ” The story is told from the eyes of a child ultimately bored with how the adults attach so much importance to the mundane. Sylvia asks, “Watcha bring us here for, Miss Moore? ” To which Miss Moore replies with, “You sound angry, Sylvia. Are you mad about something? ” Bambara keeps the lightness in the treatment of the characters, who are all kids except for Miss Moore, by strong doses of humor.
Big Butt wants to buy “that there. ” Rosie Giraffe cuts him with “That there? You don’t even what it is, stupid. ” When it is Rosie’s turn, she asks what a paperweight is. Flyboy answers with, “To weigh paper with, dumbbell. ” There are moments when the kids sound pathetic. Miss Moore asks about their desks at home where they do their homework. Junebug says he does not have a desk, Big Butt says he does not do his homework and Flyboy says he does not have a home. The theme of the story is about issue of economic disparity, among all others, between the Whites and Blacks. It can be an emotional one when discussed seriously and earnestly.
The Lesson successfully attempts to present the issue in a novel manner without taking the truth away and the need for it to be confronted. Bambara uses literary techniques to bring home the point to her readers and provide the insightful highlights of the story. For a $1,195. 00 toy sailboat, the kids’ reactions are as follow: (1) with Hyperbole, Sylvia thinks with “That much money it should last forever. ” Q. T. figures that only the rich shop in the store that sells the sailboat. (2) with Litotes, Flyboy tells him “You are a bright boy … What was your first clue? ” Sylvia fancies a $35 clown that somersaults. (3) with Anaphora, Thirty-five dollars could buy new bunk beds for Junior and Gretchen’s boy. Thirty-five dollars and the whole household could visit Grand-daddy Nelson in the country. Thirty-five dollars would pay for the rent and the piano bill too. ”
These lines are significant because even the usually doubting Sylvia realizes what other important things $35 can buy, something to sleep on for two boys, the happiness of an old man, a roof on the family’s head with their entertainment thrown in. Miss Moore’s plan must be working alright. (4) with Hyphopora, “Imagine for a minute what kind of society it is in which some people can spend on a oy what it would cost to feed a family of six or seven. What do you think? ” Sugar verbalizes her disgust for the insensitivity of some. The girl has her values right when she is equates the toy with food for seven people. Buying the toy is the height of insensitivity. Aside from the last two quotes above, there are others that add to its meaningful dissection of the social issue of disparity. “What kinda work they do and how they live and how come we ain’t on it? Who we are is who we are. ” These are the words of Miss Moore, typifying those who question the inequality of things and yet accept the fact as it is.
They do not even challenge the situation and right the wrong of it. “But it don’t necessarily have to be that way … poor people have to wake up and demand their share of the pie. ” These words are also from Miss Moore, speaking for those who believe that something can and must be done. It is like saying that nothing will change for as long as people do not know how to fight for what is by right theirs. “I think … this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough …” This is entirely wrong. Democracy is not handed down, it is something one fights for.
Equal chance and equal crack is not for free, one must earn the chance and as well as the crack. Works Cited Bambara, T. C. (1972). The Lesson. Retrieved February 5, 2009 from http://cal. ucdavis. edu/gender/thelesson. hmtl A Reader’s Response – A Good Man is Hard to Find Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a third person narrative that begins on a humorous mode and ends on a tragic note. The grandmother is a persistent old woman who gets her way, in one or the other. She has a bagful of antics to get her family, particularly her son to see things the way she sees them and get them to agree to her plans for everybody.
She meets opposition from the two most impossible to convince people in the family, her two grandchildren. She threatens them every now and then with a “Just remember that the next time you want me to curl your hair. ” She almost always gets what she wants, but not always including this particular trip to Florida. She wants to go to Tennessee instead to see old friends. Her spin about an escapee from the penitentiary roaming the highways of Florida is not working on her son Bailey. Nonetheless, on D-day she is the first to board the car.
While on the way, she remembers a particular old house she remembers from childhood that she says would be nice to see again. Bailey is hearing none of it. She consciously lie about some secret room where the family silver is, “not telling the truth but wishing she were” to get much needed support from the oppositionists, her grand kids. This time she wins and they were heading to this place through a 36-mile dirt road. It suddenly dawns on her that they are a state away from the house, which is in Tennessee and not in Georgia. The much feared escapee from the Penitentiary comes along with his two other companions.
This is the turning point of the story. O’Connor makes the characters so real in the way she portrays the grandmother and June Star. Grandmother dances to the music of Tennessee Waltz while Bailey stares fiercely at her. The irreverent June Star thinks her grandmother does not want to be left out in trips because she does not want to miss anything, that she does not want to live in a “broken-down place” like that of Red Sam and after the accident, she says that “nobody’s killed” with a tinge of disappointment when she sees her grandmother coming out alive from the car.
O’Connor is effective in giving life to their characters that one will want to squeeze the neck of June Star or give Grandmother a big hug. O’Connor uses Similes “face was as yellow as the T-shirt,” Alliterations “big black battered,” “dark and deep,” “Don’t see no sun … don’t see no cloud,” Anaphora “Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills,” and Allusion “Gone With the Wind. ” The story tells us about the ironies and contrasts in life.
There is the grandmother who sees the beauty in anything and everything like the mountains of Tennessee and the hills of Georgia, and the cute little Negro boy by the door of a shack, dances to the beat of an old favorite, takes time to see friends, calls a day beautiful in spite of the danger she is in and sees a good man in the Misfit out to kill all of them. The other character in the story is the Misfit who is hardened to the core. He thinks the world is out to get him and treat him nasty all the time.
He does not know of a single goodness left in people. There are meaningful quotes in the story that touches the reader about unfamiliar scenes of real life. Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” has several: “I was not a bad boy that I remember of … but sometimes along the line I done something wrong and got sent to the penitentiary. I was buried alive. ” Society has not been fair and kind to the kid who became the Misfit. He was not given a fair shake in life that being bad became his way of life, in and out of the penitentiary. I call myself The Misfit … because I can’t make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment. ” The Misfit was too young to make out what it was he had done that he was punished for so long and so harsh. Whatever it was he must have committed, he was sure that he did not deserve the hard life he had been through. “It was the same case with Him [Jesus] as with me except He hadn’t committed any crime and they could prove I had committed one because they have the papers on me. ”
The Misfit compared his conviction with that of Jesus Christ, who he said was innocent. He, too, was innocent as far as his conscience goes, but while they had no basis to establish the guilt of Jesus, they had papers to convict him to life in the penitentiary. “She would have been a good woman … if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. ” For the Misfit, only death would save people from being bad. It could be the reason why he kept killing people, to save them from being bad. He thinks that the longer people live, they keep going bad.
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