By Terry Keith
The lessons we learn in life are not always enjoyable; however, most are necessary. In the story ?The Lesson? by Cadi Bambara, a group of children discover the reality of the economic injustice(s) set upon them and their society. Through the author?s use of characterization, dialogue, and imagery, the reader understands the humility and economic reality the main characters discover for themselves. While the common individual(s) share?s the ?pursuit of happiness?, along the way one may discover economic injustice(s) and need to revolt so as to claim higher personal values.
Through the author?s use of characterization, the reader discovers that Miss Moore?s character is the stimuli for the children?s growing feelings of injustice. In the first paragraph, ?Miss Moore, who always looked like she was going to church, though she never did? (239). Miss Moore?s appearance to the reader obviously represents the appearance of an educated and successful individual. This characterization of Miss Moore makes the reader feel as though there is a reward for rising above the injustices that society sets upon us. To the children Miss Moore?s appearance was confusing and alienating because it always causes the children?s parents to ?spruce the children up for Miss Moore?s trips into the city?. The author wrote this passage so the children could come to understand the necessity for an education and how society looks out upon those individuals who have risen above injustice(s) to succeed.
Through the author?s use of dialogue, we the reader(s) fall victim to the children?s sad understanding of their economic position in society. In the seventh paragraph, ?Who?d pay all that when you can buy a sailboat set for a quarter at Pop?s, a tube of glue for a dime, and a ball of string for eight cents? It must have a motor and a whole lot else? (241). The author wrote this passage so the reader could discover the children?s curiosity about who would and who could actually pay for the expensive sailboat. The children know that Mercedes bought a sailboat for fifty cents and are now wondering why this sailboat cost so much. The statement concerning who could buy such an expensive sailboat makes me feel as though there is real economic reason to rise up, and to over come my own injustices, within my own society, so as to never get into the position the children in this story are in. The cost of the more expensive sailboat represents and higher quality standard that the children have not been introduce to before now because of their economic situation.
Through the author?s use of imagery, the reader witness?s the children?s understanding of the complete value of money in regards to necessities in our society. When Miss Moore say?s in the sixth paragraph ?Imagine for a minute what kind of society it is in which some peole can spend on a toy what it would cost to feed a family of six or seven (243). The author wrote this passgae to illustrate to the children the image of a large quanity of money in porportion to the necessity of feeding six or seven children, this idea draws the children closer to the real idea of the importance of money. This makes me feel for the first time in this story that, there is a real purpose for the children to learn and to succeed in their own society. The idea of one thousand dollars for the fancy toy sailboat also enables the children to understand the injustice(s) of the of their own economic situation. The author wants us to understand that to rise up above our injustices is to prevail in society and to be respected by our peers.
One of the reasons for democracy is so that less fortunate individuals may righteously correct injustice(s) that society has placed upon them. Through the author?s use of dialogue, the reader discovers the dim economic situation that the characters in this story are living day, to day within. The characterization that the author uses reflects the lack of education the character?s society has allowed to achieve. The imagery that the author uses during the beginning of the story mainly relates to a less than successful society in which the characters live. The reason the author wrote this story was to suggest that, along with the knowledge of one?s membership in the underclass of society, one may find economic injustice and the need to revolt in order to claim higher personal values and the ?pursuit of happiness? we all share. The pursuit of happiness will never be contained within the walls of any society, good, or bad, as long as an individual?s desire for success prevails.