Martin Luther King

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the right and wrong ways of dealing with this. “The Lesson,” by Toni Cade Bambara, does not necessarily have to do with the racial oppression King describes, as Bambara tells a short story expressing how a group of children living in poverty view the richer lifestyle, but some of King‟s categories of dealing with oppression can be seen in how Bambara‟s characters react to what they are observing.
At the start of Bambara‟s “The Lesson,” Sylvia expresses her dislike and almost hatred for Miss Moore. This is made obvious by many of the statements she makes when introducing the characters and story: “I‟m really hating this nappy-head bitch and her goddamn college degree,” and “though I never talk to her . . . I wouldn‟t give the bitch that satisfaction.” Hatred is often the first step in acting violently, one of King‟s ways of meeting oppression. While Sylvia, or anyone else at any time during the story, does not actually act violently, their thoughts and feelings show signs of possible violence in the future. Not only do Sylvia and the children show a tendency of hatred towards Miss Moore, but to each other as well—especially aimed at Mercedes. The reader can gather that Mercedes‟s family has a little more money than the rest of them and Mercedes has no problem rubbing that fact in. When standing outside the store, Mercedes brags that her father would buy her the expensive toy boat if she wanted it, and Rosie responds by showing her some hostility: “Your father, my ass.” While the little disputes between the children are very likely just immaturity and they will grow out of it, the story also is able to show what the children think about the issue of a rich vs. poor lifestyle. Hatred/violence is not the only category present in the story prior to the entrance of the store. The children show acquiescence in how they accept the fact that they are poor and assume things…...

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