In Toni Cade Bambara's, "The Lesson", the story seems kind of linear when you start reading it. At first, it is just about a girl named Sylvia and her childish, rebellious nature toward Miss Moore. But you later discover that there is much more to this story than you initially expected. The seemingly insignificant quarrels that Sylvia has with Miss Moore have a deeper meaning to it. The resolution of the conflict between Sylvia and Miss Moore shows the struggle Sylvia has regarding whether she should not learn things because it appears like a weakness to her or to learn and accept what Miss Moore is trying to teach her.
The conflict between Sylvia and Miss Moore is because of Sylvia's understanding of the division between the rich and
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Schwarz and not worry about the $4.00 change that Sylvia has kept and which Miss Moore surely has not forgotten." (Cartwright 62) As a consequence of this fact, the children are jealous of her and dislike her because of it. "The story is essentially about Miss Moore's efforts to teach the children and their resistance, especially Sylvia's, to learning anything." (Cartwright 62) I agree with Cartwright's statement and this basically summarizes the theme of the story, which stems from Sylvia and her group's implicit jealously of Miss Moore's higher status in society.
The Contemporary literary criticism states,
"Finally, she indirectly indicated the type of urban environment in which she lives; 'And we kinda hated [Miss Moore]...the way we did the winos who cluttered up out parks and pissed on our handball courts halfway play hide and seek without a goddamn gas mask.'" (88:13)
This displays that Sylvia understands the type of environment that she lives in which brings up the dispute she has with Miss Moore. "She also reveals that she and her cousin live with their aunt, who is "saddles" with them while 'our mothers [are] in a la-de-da apartment up the block having a good old time.'" This shows the conflict that she has with Miss Moore because of this division of classes. "Even though Sylvia affects
boredom with the subject, it is clear that the mention of their condition of poverty is unpleasant to her,