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The Lesson

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Toni Cade Bambara was born with the birth name Miltona Mirkin Cade; however, she changed it to Toni when she was in kindergarten. She lived in many areas of New York; however, she spent the first ten years of her life in Harlem. Much of her work was directly related to her activism as it functioned to fulfill the needs of the community. She wrote primarily for black people and in black dialect. Through writing in dialect, she is implying to other cultures that interpreting black dialect is just as worthy as interpreting white dialect.

Sylvia is young African American girl, very street-wise, a natural leader, and has a mouth that would make a sailor blush. She is rough around the edges, skeptical of other peoples’ intentions, and always in control of her group of friends. Sylvia is being raised in a low class environment, however is content with her life and friends. Sylvia is one of the children that Miss Moore has chosen to mentor. She does not like school and considers Miss Moore’ lessons to be boring and a waste of her summer vacation.

Miss Moore is the only person in the neighborhood with a college degree. She is very independent, speaks with proper English, and dresses as though she is going to church even though she is not. She is very committed to the children in her community and assumes responsibility to motivate them to want more out of life. As a motivational tool, she takes the children on a trip to FAO Schwarz. Her intent is to show the children the additional opportunities life has to offer.

The story is taking place in the suburbs of New York City during the hot summer months. The children are on their summer break from school and would rather be

spending their day at the pool or going to the movies, than going with Miss Moore on an educational adventure. The children live in the same apartment

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