How does the story "The Lesson" being told by a child, "Sylvia", have an effect on the story?I want to know how the point of view might be different if it were told by an adult.

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mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When looking at the story, "The Lesson", the person telling the story is a child, Sylvia.  This viewpoint is important to the lesson to be learned which is that their economic status is racist and class related which they seem to already know, and that they have the ability to change their status which they don't really know.  Sylvia sees the disparity of wealth around her, but sees no way out.  She reacts as a child, with anger and a desire to spend the money on frivolous things.  Miss Moore, who wears her hair with its real curl and is college educated, is the one who is the adult explaining how the adult world works.  She is the one who tries to explain her college education and the change in her economic status.  That is why it is Sylvia telling the story because the entire framework would have to change if an adult told the story.  Sylvia as an adult would be looking backward in time which removes the immediacy of the lesson.  A different adult would be talking as an observer rather than a participant.  Everything changes with an adult viewpoint.