Struggles with Identity in The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara

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The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara is a story about a group of children living in the slums of New York City in the 1970s. The main character, Sylvia, struggles to figure out her identity and how she sees herself. Miss Moore, a well-educated black woman, takes Sylvia and her friends to a toy store in Manhattan to show them the real world. Through this experience, Sylvia realizes that she is a strong and intelligent individual. The story emphasizes the importance of having a sense of identity and a safe haven where one can concentrate and find themselves as an individual. Sylvia’s rebellious behavior may be a result of conforming to societal perceptions rather than being true to herself.

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In the story “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, the importance of having a sense of self is highlighted. Many people conform to societal expectations without fully understanding their own identity. The main character in the narrative goes through a difficult journey of self-discovery and comprehension.

“The Lesson” delves into the lives of a group of youths living in the impoverished neighborhoods of New York City in the 1970s. The narrative centers around Sylvia, our main character, who is portrayed as lacking education, being impolite, and having a strong will. Although Sylvia just wants to have fun with her friends during the summer, she gets unexpectedly whisked away by Miss Moore, an educated African American woman, and her companions to F.O.A Schwarz toy store situated in Manhattan.

Miss Moore exposes the children to an unfamiliar world during their trip, which she claims is the “real world” that can aid in self-discovery and comprehension of personal attributes. Ultimately, Sylvia discovers her own power and intellect.

It is crucial to have a safe space for personal growth and self-discovery. The story depicts Sylvia as a rebellious girl who frequently uses profanity, perhaps because she feels compelled to pretend to be someone different when she is with her friends.


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Struggles with Identity in The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara. (2018, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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