The level of language used by the narrator in Toni Cade Bambara’s short story “The Lesson” is hard to quantify but appears to be that of an under-educated upper elementary or middle school student. She uses the language that is acceptable in her neighborhood, which lacks proper grammar, pronunciation, and diction. Although she attends school, her language is reflective of what is used in her home life. It is cluttered with profanities, slang, and colloquialisms that she would hear used by the adults in her life. At times she uses double negatives and does not complete the endings on words. Therefore, instead of placing a level on the language it more important to understand why the author has the narrator use this language.
So this one day Miss Moore rounds us all up at the mailbox and it's puredee hot and she's knockin herself out about arithmetic. And school suppose to let up in summer I heard, but she don't never let up.
The story is written in 1972 when education and literacy for young African American students was lacking. The character Miss Moore, exceeds expectations by attaining a college education, and she attempts to address the issue of under-education by exposing the narrator and her friends to a side of life they rarely experience. She guides them on a trip to downtown Manhattan where they experience “sticker shock” in the famous toy store F.A.O. Schwartz. She takes it upon herself to let the students, including the narrator, discover that there is another “world” just outside of theirs in which education matters.