In "The Lesson" why does Miss Moore ask the kids if they know what money is?

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angelanns eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Money for these children is not really money, so money takes on an ambiguous meaning.  Sure, they think they have money—this is what buys groceries and such.  But Miss Moore knows that the money these children see is diminutive, small, and irrelevant compared to real money or wealth.  Her lesson is to teach them that all money is not the same.  And, they equally need to know that “this is not much of a democracy” (Bambara 548) when everybody does not have the same opportunity or “an equal crack at the dough” (Bambara 548).  Money for poor black kids from a lower socioeconomic status—money used for groceries, clothes, survival—is different from the money that can be spent in a toy store like F.A.O. Schwarz.  The real problem is that these kids did not know that.  When Miss Moore is lecturing them about “what things cost and what [their] parents make and how much goes for rent and how money ain’t divided up right in this country” (Bambara 544), the narrator says that she is bored and “don’t feature” (Bambara 544) the information.  This is probably because it is not new, or she thinks that this is a problem for everyone—that is, until she actually sees how the “other side” lives.