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Both works describe the daily life of a school house from a teacher's perspective. In each work, the young people are described as troubled. The Best of School is an optimisitc work about the special relationship that can form between teacher and students, even under less than ideal circumstances. Lawrence's character demonstrates creativity and resourcefulness to engage his otherwise aloof youngsters. Last Lesson of the Afternoon paints a darker picture. The students are described as out-of-control and are compared to a pack of wild animals. The teacher quickly grows tired and discouraged, and can only find solace in reaching the end of the day: the last lesson of the afternoon. The title of each work reflects its mood, but structurally the two works have little in common. The Best of School is written in free-verse with little attention given to standard rhythmic devices. The Last Lesson of the Afternoon, on the other hand, follows a regular patten of cadance and poetic rhythm.
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