The Lesson is a story about Sylvia and her circle of friends are taught a valuable lesson on life when left in the hands of Miss Moore. The children are taken from their surroundings on a "field trip" and find themselves on 5th Avenue in an upscale shopping district drooling over toys in FAO Schwartz. This trip uptown gives Sylvia a lesson in self-awareness that she will never forget. .
Sylvia's living conditions at home are less then ideal. She complained about the "winos who cluttered up our parks and pissed on our handball walls and stank up our hallways and stairs so you couldn't halfway play hide-and-seek without a goddamn gas mask" (pg 103) And comments are also made concerning the money used to pay the grocer "Monopoly papers we lay on the grocer" (pg 104) .
When the enter the store Sylvia is hesitant "when we get there I kinda hang back. Not that I"m scared, what's there to be afraid of, just a toy store" (pg 105). She also adds, "But I feel funny, shame. But what I got to be shamed about? Got as much right to go in as anybody. But somehow I can't seem to get hold of the door, so I step away from Sugar to lead" She knows that this place is out of her league and is reluctant to enter. .
The lesson then begins to absorb, reluctantly, into Sylvia's head,.Once in side the store she makes an angry comment to Miss Moore, ""Whatcha bring us here for Miss Moore?" (474) Sylvia asks. "You sound angry, Sylvia. Are you mad about something?" (pg 107) Miss Moore replied. The children later gather by the mailbox and Miss Moore asks them what they have learned from this trip. The only one to reply is Sugar ""I think," say Sugar pushing me off her feet like she never done before, cause I whip her ass in a minute, "that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don't it?" " (pg 108).
Sylvia accepts the lesson but needs time to digest it all.