Why is the professor in "The Lesson" by Toni Bambara feeling nervous when she meets her pupils? What is the effectiveness of the feeling of nervousness to the whole story?
In Toni Bambara's "The Lesson," Miss Moore might be feeling nervous or uncomfortable because she has returned home to teach as one of the only college-educated African Americans in her neighborhood. She stands out as different from the rest since she wears her hair in its natural curls and speaks proper Standard American English as opposed to the neighborhood version of English. She also takes it upon herself to teach the children about poverty and the society which allows such poverty to exist amidst such obvious wealth. One of the things she does is arranges field trips to show the children the differences in the world they live. On one trip to FAO Swartz, the childen are amazed that a sailboat can cost $35--a huge amount in their eyes which would pay the rent, feed a whole family for a very long time, or pay for a trip to see a grandparent for the entire family. They are angry that people have so much money to spend on toys when they are so impoverished.
The feeling of nervousness throughout the story is exactly what the teacher and her students are feeling. The teacher is nervous about bringing her group to such a place, and she is also nervous about whether or not her lesson will be learned. The children are nervous about being in a place where things are so expensive, and they are feeling a little like they are under a microscope in this store. The nervousness is mixed with frustration and anger which further helps the reader step into the shoes of the characters and live for a short while as they do. In this way, the lesson is not just for Miss Moore's students, but for us as well.