People come in and out of the life of a person each and every day leaving lasting memories and lessons learned. With these people the basis of a relationship is formed. A person's relationships, whether good or bad, affect their opinion, reveal truth, and teach life's confusing lessons. In the short story, "The Lesson," Toni Cade Bambara focuses on the relationships of a young indigent black girl, Sylvia, with her schoolteacher Ms. Moore, her best friend Sugar, and her fellow classmates to reveal the nature of economic inequality in American society while on a class trip to F.A.O. Schwarz, and expensive toy store. .
As Sylvia encounters the material wealth represented by the toys, her anger becomes a cover-up for increasing feelings of envy, as she is the first to uncover the day's lesson. Initially reacting to Miss Moore's teachings, Sylvia denies the importance and truth of her words "[when] she gets to the part about how we [the children] all poor and live in the slums, which I don't feature" (308). Convinced Ms. Moore was only rubbing it in her face "that all of [the children] put together couldn't eat in a year what [the toy] sailboat costs," she disregarded Ms. Moore's questions refusing to give her the satisfaction that being inside was intimidating and quite bothersome. But once she compares her world with the excess she sees at the toy store, Sylvia admits she has no use .
for the toys inside and that her parents" money would be better spent buying a new bed for her brothers or paying the rent. Its traumatic for a child to come to the realization that there are better things to play with yet they can't have them because they can't afford them. .
For Sylvia, anything that elevates her awareness of her relative poverty is a threat. She resists consciousness of the "new world" by mocking and ridiculing other characters in the story that are dabbling with it. The other children's interaction with Miss Moore makes her especially derisive.