Literature is a mirror of its time of creation. The characters depicted in the literature are the sample pieces of real human beings of its time. To get the unique features and common manners of a community at a particular time, go through the literature of its era.
In “The Lesson,” Miss Moore has moved into the narrator’s-Sylvia’s-neighborhood recently. Miss Moore is unlike the other African Americans in the neighborhood. She wears her hair in its natural curls, speaks proper English, is college educated and wants to teach the neighborhood children about the world around them. One day Miss Moore takes the children on a field trip. They go into to the city to the toy store to talk about how much things cost, what the children’s parents earn and the unequal division of wealth in the United States. She makes Sylvia upset when she tells her they are poor and live in the ghetto.
“The Lesson” is told from Sylvia’s first person point of view. Sylvia is able to present a broader view of her community. For example, Miss Moore goes against certain cultural standards of the time by wearing her hair “nappy” and by not going to church. Sylvia also presents the different types of people who live in her community-the West Indian kids on Sunset and her friend Mercedes, who wants to be like the white people. Through the course of the story, she learns a lesson which disillusions her about the world in which she lives. Her new-found knowledge is a guiding point in her life. Sylvia’s final statement is “But ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin (page 432).” These words are deep inside her and will propel her to strive towards the life she feels she in entitled to.
Alice Walker is an amazing story teller. Her story, “Everyday Use” tells the tale of a mother and her daughters’ conflicting ideas about their identities and ancestry. “Everyday Use” is a story that defines African-American heritage. On its surface, “Everyday Use” tells how a mother gradually rejects the...