How the Great Depression Affected African Americans
The little details are the ones to always keep an eye out for. Whatever is read could be seen as a pointless meaning, but once one gets a full understanding the bigger picture can be seen. This allows the reader to gain a view from the narrator’s point of view. The following will be analyzing the true meaning behind “The Lesson” to gain a full understanding during the time period and the meaning from the narrator’s point of view.
The time period plays a big part in the story. At the time the United states was coming to an end with the great depression which was a “worldwide economic depression” (Amadeo) which saw many people lose everything they owned. It was a difficult time to be able to maintain a steady job, but even harder for African Americans do to the fact that “unemployment had risen by three percent” (Amadeo) and many of the businesses were owned by white people. Many would have to live paycheck to paycheck to maintain food on the table for their families. Eventually around 1939, African Americans were slowly beginning taking a bigger stance against discrimination which would Lead to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s. This would lead to a period where white and African Americans would riot against each other where many of the bouts would end up with fights and even deaths. “The Lesson” gives a view from the stand points from the great depression to discrimination through the narrative of a young African American.
Let’s take a view point from the narrative and protagonist, Sylvia. She’s a strong but a sensitive young girl who manages to block all the realities of the world to live in a world of her own. Sylvia explores and shares how life is for minorities who are poor in the United States. From the beginning one could tell Sylvia preferred to have a great time with her friends than be educated. Wouldn’t acknowledge what Miss Moore is trying to teach, would even call her names like “nappy head bitch” or “stupid” (Bambara 1). Eventually it would hit Silvia that the lesson she’s gaining is “the growing up process, an individual learns many valuable lessons in their lives, which changes their life perspective”
Let’s now talk about Miss Moore. Around the neighborhood many people consider her somewhat smart lady do to she was one of the only with an education. The young narrator, Sylvia, would always look at Miss Moore with such a sour look. Would describe her as the lady who “moved on our block with nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup” just criticizing her for the way she looks. Sylvia and the other kids also felt like Miss Moore goal was always to “prevent the children from having fun,” but little did Sylvia and the other children know it is all part of a lesson.
Miss Moore planned the trip to F.A.O. Schwarz to expose the children of how the world really is while exposing to the children the problem with racism in the united states. She takes the kids to the toy store, but only lets them see out the window to prevent interaction with “others.” Big Butt then says how he wants to buy the microscope but notices he needs to save for “too long” to be able to afford it and probably “outgrow it by that time.” Miss Moore keeps his head up by saying “you never outgrow learning instruments” (Bambara 2 ) basically saying if one is determined to invest then he or she will make that investment grow into something even bigger. As the kids walked to the door of the store, they panicked for a little getting a feel of fear to go inside.
Sylvia mentioned how she felt shame for not leading the group inside as they were “stuffed up” in front of the door, then it hit her “What I got to be shamed about? Got as much right to go in as anybody” (Bambara 2). As they stumbled into the store all the kids notice as “everything so hushed and holy and the candles and the bowin and the handkerchiefs on all the drooping heads” expressing how everyone in their surroundings were staring at them as if they had a spotlight on them. Sylvia and the kids didn’t dare to touch single toy or game as walking through the store with all the people watching, all the kids would feel were the wondering eyeballs across the room. The kids were finally coming into conclusion of the lesson Miss Moore is trying to teach, getting a better understanding of how uncomfortable it is to live in today’s world.
Finally, the trip comes to an end and asks the final question to the kids, ‘Well, what did you think of F.A.O Schwarz?” The kids for the main part said “white folks crazy” reflecting how they were treated by them at the store. Surprisingly the one answer that stood out was “You know, Miss Moore, I don’t think all of us here put together eat in a year what that sailboat costs.’ This emphasis how the kids know they can’t afford to ever buy the boat, but know they can make the best out of the money they do have. At the end the kids do process a valuable lesson of how the world really is in their time period and get a understanding of what really is valuable in life for someone to invest time into all thanks to Miss Moore.
In conclusion, the lesson gave us a view of what time period the characters were living in and what were some of the life experiences the confronted and also gained a full understanding from the narrators point of view on the big picture created for the reader.