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The socio-economic, social, and political underpinning of the story is focused in Miss Moore, who is a “cousin, mostly” who moved north along with Sylvia’s family, and who now lives on the same block as the family. Miss Moore, who has attended college, says, “it was only right that she should take responsibility for the young ones’ education” (paragraph 1). According to Sylvia, Miss Moore is always contriving “boring ass things” for the children to do (i.e., informal but guided educational tours), and we may assume that the excursion to F.A.O. Schwarz, which in its time was the quintessentially high-end toy store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, is one of these “things.” As a teacher, Miss Moore employs the Socratic method. Her method is to demonstrate a situation, and then get the children to draw conclusions from it.
Thus, as the children observe the toys, especially a toy fiberglass sailboat selling “at one thousand one hundred ninety-five dollars” (paragraph 25), their responses dramatize the economic inequality represented by the price. The response of Sugar, Sylvia’s friend and roommate, is representative: “I think … that this not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don’t it?” (paragraph 51). All the dialogue, from paragraph 11 to the story’s end, builds up to these conclusions.
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