The Lesson Themes

Themes and Meanings (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Toni Cade Bambara does not specify what Sylvia plans to do with her newfound insight into social and economic inequality, but Sylvia is clearly angry and uneasy. Rather than spend the money on food treats as Sugar wants, Sylvia wants to ponder the lesson that she pretends not to learn, that disadvantaged groups need to think about the inequitable distribution of wealth in the United States. Sylvia knows that Miss Moore hopes that poor people will wake up and demand their fair share of economic resources, and Sylvia’s vow at the end of the story suggests that she is determined eventually to have more money than is typical of the adults in her slum neighborhood.

The Lesson Themes

Poverty and Wealth
The children in ‘‘The Lesson’’ all come from poor families. They live in apartment buildings where...

(The entire section is 855 words.)