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Word Count: 1,032
Toni Cade Bambaras short story The Lesson takes place in inner city New York The main character Sylvia is a fourteen year old African American girl who tells the story in a first person narrative Sylvia mentions Miss Moore a teacher who felt that it was her duty to help underprivileged children learn Miss Moore felt there was a lesson to learn at FAO Schwartz a very expensive upper class toy store in downtown Manhattan The reason Miss Moore brings the children to FAO Schwartz is captured in Bambaras use of symbolism Miss Moore uses the toys in FAO Schwartz to convey to the kids where they are on the social ladder Outside of the toy shop the children stare at a number of very expensive toys some of them include a paperweight and a sailboat which symbolize the facts that wealth is not equally distributed and education that and hard work can one day earn the children these things they see Initially none of the children especially Sylvia know what the paperweight is She says to herself that my eyes tell me its a chunk of glass cracked with something heavy and different-color inks dripped into the splits then the whole thing put into a oven or something But for 480 it dont make sense 110 After Miss Moore explains its to weigh paper down so it wont scatter and make your desk untidy 110 the children still cannot comprehend its use or price Sylvia could not understand having an expensive paperweight to weigh papers moreover most of the children do not own a desk and would not even have any use for the paperweight Junebug says I dont even have a desk 110 showing that wealth is unevenly distributed Some people have enough to spend that much on a paperweight while others can not even afford a desk to do their homework on Miss Moore knows that the kids do not have a
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