How does Sylvia change from the beginning of "The Lesson" to the end of the story?

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Sylvia is a tough girl throughout the story.  She truly understands the lesson, and this knowledge creates an epiphany in her.  She learns the lesson of class inequality and unfairness in spite of herself. 

In the beginning, Sylvia considers Ms. Moore an enemy.  She exists to interfere with her summer days by providing free "lessons" to the neighborhood children.   Sylvia says that when Ms. Moore came around...

And our parents would yank our heads into some kinda shape and crisp up our clothes so we'd be presentable for travel with Miss Moore, who always looked like she was going to church though she never did.

Sylvia resents having to dress up to go with a woman that she did not like.  However, her resentment does not extend beyond having to miss a childhood day in the streets.  By the end of the story, she learns much more about the effect of her own lifestyle.  She is even more resentful that her friends are beginning to learn this lesson as well, as evidenced by her friend's statement:

"I think," say Sugar pushing me off her feet like she never done before cause I whip her ass in a minute, "that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don't it?"

She learns that there is a difference between rich and poor and that this different, while not being fair, is very real.  As a child, Sylvia does not want to recognize her diminishing ability to dictate her life.  As an intelligent young woman, she has to.