Student’s nameInstructorCourseAugust 14, 2018
Symbolism In ‘The Lesson’ By Toni Bambara:
Symbolism is a critical literacy term used by many writers to convey the central idea. In the story, The Lesson, Tony uses a variety of symbols in his composition. The children are taken on a trip to F.A.O. Schwarz, one of the expensive toyshops by Miss Moore (Snodgrass 47). When the children see the colorful toys inside the shop, they get astonished, which symbolises that they come from low-class backgrounds and seeing such toys and the prices on them is not a familiar thing to them.
Toni uses symbolism in the title she gives his story. In his short story, the lesson, the title is used to symbolise what the kids will learn from the trip to F.A.O.Schwarz. The main idea in Toni’s story was to display the inequalities in the wealth distribution. Some of the toys that children find interesting are the paperweight and the sailboat. The children have no clue what the sailboat and the paperweight are, and although their teacher tries to explain to them, they do not understand their use (Gale & Cengage learning 6).
A paperweight is used to hold something valuable, and since the children have never had useful things in their lives, the paperweight can be used to symbolise that their poor neighborhood may be holding them down. The paperweight is used symbolically in the story. Primarily, the children do not know what the paperweight was, especially Sylvia. Sylvia thinks that paperweight is a mass of glass broken with something weighty.
Wait! the lesson paper is just an example!
“My eyes tell me it’s a chunk of glass cracked with something heavy, and different-color inks dripped into the splits, then the whole thing put into an oven or something. But the $480, it doesn’t make sense” (Bambara 2). The prices the children see on the toys is life’s worth of effort. The sailboat used by Bambara symbolises freedom and the journey that lies ahead of the children. This suggests that for the children to experience a change in their lives, they have to flee from the poverty world by working hard in their academics.
Toni Bambara, in the short story, uses symbolism in naming some of the characters to enable the audience to know what kind of people they are. One of the characters in the story is Fat Butt (Bambara 1). It is evident from the name that the character is a fat child who overeats. Toni supports this by saying; “Fat Butt was already wasting his peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich like the pig he is”(Gale & Cengage learning 6).
In conclusion, Bambara, excellently depicts the element of symbolism by exploring poverty and how its effects are spread in socioeconomic class variations in the society in America.
Gale, and Cengage Learning. A study guide for Tony Cade Bambara’s ”lesson ”. 2016.
Snodgrass, Mary. Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature. 2016.
Bambara, Toni Cade. “The lesson.” 1-6.
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