"The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara, tell us that children tend not to be naturally aware of inequality; they must come to this knowledge through experience.
This short story is about a young poverty-stricken girl named Sylvia, and the experiences she has on her field trip to F.A.O. Schwarz. Can a group of poor children learn the nature of inequality by visiting a high priced toy store?.
The main characters in the story are the little girl Sylvia, the other students on the field trip, and the teacher Miss Moore. Bambara creates a multitude of these characters to help Sylvia explore and demonstrate the issues that face poor people and minorities in the United States. Sylvia is a young, poor African American girl who is very judgmental about the world around her. She does not know what is like to have the luxuries of the wealthy, or even the middle class. Barbara's use of vivid language, spoken by Sylvia, adds to the stories realism, and shows the reader the hardships that she has probably gone through living as a ghetto child in the slums of Harlem. The other main character in ""The Lesson,"" is Miss Moore. She has recently moved into the narrator's, Sylvia's, neighborhood. Miss Moore is unlike the other African Americans in the neighborhood. She wears her hair in its natural curls, she speaks proper English, she goes by her last name, she has attended college, and she wants to teach the neighborhood children about the world around them.
The conflict between Sylvia and Miss Moore is the most worthy of note. Sylvia has her own perception of the way things are. She is in her own "world", which she does not like to have invaded by the prying questions of Miss Moore. In the back of Sylvia's mind she knows that she is poor, but it never bothered her until she saw how luxurious the lives of wealthy people are compared to her own. For Sylvia to accept that she is underprivileged is shameful for her, so she would rather deny it than admit that she is poor.