Toni Cade Bambara (1939–1995) is the author of several novels and short stories mainly focused on the idea of coming of age as children grow up and on social injustice, particularly with respect to the disparity of wealth among the rich and the poor. One of her most popular stories is “The Lesson,” which is narrated in the first person by a young girl named Sylvia in a poor, mostly black New York City neighborhood where an odd woman, Miss Moore, arrives one day. The reader learns a great deal about the character and motivations of the eccentric woman from Sylvia’s descriptions and dialogue as the story progresses.
It seems that Miss Moore regularly volunteers to informally teach in inner-city areas:
Miss Moore was her name. The only woman on the block with no first name. And she was black as hell, cept for her feet, which were fish-white and spooky. And she was always planning these boring-ass things for us to do, us being my cousin, mostly, who lived on the block.
As the story...
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