The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara
The main character in Toni Cade Bambara's "The Lesson" is a tough girl from the slums. Ironically she is not even named until halfway through the story. Sylvia (our main character) uses her experience at the toy store to become more self-aware. In "The Lesson," Sylvia learns a lot about herself as well as Social Classes. With this new information she will propel herself into the social class of her choosing.
We know very little about Sylvia. The author provides no real description besides what we may gain from the context. Though we do know Sylvia is a stubborn child and is very introverted. She is a pretty "closed" person. Even when she wants to know what a real boat costs, she does not directly ask Miss Moore because she doesn't want to give her the satisfaction of speaking to her. What I want to know is," I says to Miss Moore though I never talk to her, I wouldn't give the bitch that satisfaction, " how much a real boat costs? When they are in the toy store and Sugar (her cousin) runs her finger over the boat, Sylvia says, “I'm jealous and want to hit her. Maybe not her, but I sure want to punch somebody in the mouth” . She is angry about the contrast between the lower and upper class (and the fact she is on the wrong end of it) but she doesn't want to appear that way. She doesn't want anyone to know that these differences bother her, especially Miss Moore since she is has so much resentment towards her. She is even angry with her cousin for expressing a lesson that learned to Miss Moore. This does not mean she doesn't "get it," She understands exactly what she should take from this experience.
Sylvia is intelligent and she does have an awakening of sorts while entering the toy store. She says, "But I feel funny, shame," as she enters the toy store, but she is not quite sure what she is shamed about. She is smart enough to realize that she cannot afford the boat even though her family works hard. Silvia keeps thinking about...