What strengths and weaknesses in Sylvia’s character are illuminated by her being the narrator in The Stories of Bambara?How is her language evidence of both strengths and weaknesses? In...

What strengths and weaknesses in Sylvia’s character are illuminated by her being the narrator in The Stories of Bambara?

How is her language evidence of both strengths and weaknesses? In particular, what extremes of character are displayed in paragraph 58 when Sylvia says to herself that she will have “to think this day through” yet is determined that “nobody [is] gonna beat [her] at nuthin”? Is she a developing character?

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Sylvia, the narrator of Toni Cade Bambara's short story "The Lesson," is definitely a developing character.  Sylvia cannot quite make sense of "the lesson" that Miss Moore has tried to teach the childen during their trip to F. A. O. Schwartz.  Sylvia admits to herself that something has occurred, but she feels betrayed by her friend Sugar who has answered Miss Moore's questions revolving around the expensive toys in the shop window.  Sylvia and her other friends have been resentful of Miss Moore and do not accept her as a staple part of their community.  This resentment creates a wall between Sylvia and Miss Moore, one that Sylvia has a difficult time tearing down.  But Sylvia cannot deny that Sugar was on to something at the store, and she wants to reflect on this privately.  She is determined to not let anyone beat her, but this is a defenive mode that Sylvia employs because she is beginning to realize that there is a whole world out there that is always trying, and succeeding, to beat her at things.

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