In the short story "The Lesson," why does Miss Moore personify the hostile force of education on the children?

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The narrator, Sylvia, has taken it upon herself to speak on behalf of her classmates. Her sentiments are what personify Miss Moore, their teacher, as a hostile force. This is because Sylvia is cynical about everything Miss Moore stands for and tries to teach. Sylvia proclaims her disgust for Miss Moore from the outset. She mentions, for example, that Mis Moore has "nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup."

Sylvia's derogatory references extend throughout the story. She equates Miss Moore to some of the most unpleasant characters in their society and states that the students hate her just as much as they hate them. As far as Sylvia is concerned, Miss Moore is the enemy, and she will not be dominated by her.

It is clear that Miss Moore wants to teach the students some essential life lessons during their excursion to a fancy and costly toy shop. Sylvia, though, sees Miss Moore's attempt as an imposition. She wants to be free to do as she wants without having to listen to her teacher's boring speeches. She says, "I’d much rather go to the pool or to the show where it’s cool" and "would much rather snatch Sugar and go to the Sunset and terrorize the West Indian kids and take their hair ribbons and their money too."

It is ironic, however, that in spite of her skepticism and negative perception of her teacher, Sylvia can recall practically everything that Miss Moore says. She also admits that she is ready to talk about the issue of poverty and the disparities in society but that she stops short when Miss Moore hails a cab.

In the end, it ironically seems that Sylvia is the one who has learned the most from their excursion even though she supposedly sees Miss Moore as a hostile force. Her uncharacteristic decision indicates that she was intrigued by what happened, and she states,

I’m going to the West End and then over to the Drive to think this day through.

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