“The lesson” Short Story

“The lesson” a short story written by Toni Cade Bambara can be considered an accurate example of an initiation story. In this short essay, we see characters that include Sylvia, Sugar, and their children’s friends define themselves as they set their course to change their future. The actions and thoughts of Sylvia who is a teenage girl place her as a person with a sassy attitude. However, the bad attitude only prefers to change her drastically because of the influence of Miss Moore, the woman she despises.


As the story begins, we see the writer places characters in their position that allows them to take up actions that determine their future course. Miss Moore as a college graduate is involved in the education of children within her neighborhood. At the same time, these children among them Sylvia are not grateful and seems selfish.  Sylvia in her case lacks respect for Miss Moore and curses her.

The story portrays the features of an initiation story when it continuous takes the protagonist, Sylvia through some experience. She is associated with abominable actions, selfishness, and arrogant towards Miss Moore and seems only friendly to Sugar.

The transition between the city and the suburbs sets in through the taxi ride that Miss Moore takes children and this shapes the story into the intended life lesson. The actions of children among them Sylvia make them appear like fish that has come out of the water. Sylvia and other children get an opportunity to visit the toy store and realized that what they had at home was different from what was in the store.

We see a changing mood in the text; we see the constant reality about Sylvia. The writer’s narration of this story is kept very fresh making it different from other initiation stories. The reader is held in the mood of seeing two different lives, poverty and richness which portrays transition from one to the other.


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