The article by Toni Cade Bambara is appropriately titled, “The Lesson.” Toni learned an important lesson that day when she went to F.A.O. Schwarz, and it was that not everyone is given the same opportunities, and people are not equal. As she is about to go in, she hangs back and thinks “Got as much right to go in as anybody,” which is completely true. The kids tiptoe around the store, and Toni talks about the toy clown. She imagines what her mother would say if she asked for $35 for one toy. Her mother would be appalled at the idea of spending that kind of money on one thing when that much money could “buy new bunk beds for Junior and Gretchen’s boy. Thirty-five dollars would pay for the rent and the piano bill too.” The guilt and shame she feels is the same feeling that Barbie talks about when asked to take a survey by a lady at the emergency room. She is there because her son, Aiden, has gotten sick since the house they are living in has no heat. She tells the woman that she does not wish to participate because she is secretly afraid her children will be taken away from her. Barbie also says that she was taught to always keep her secrets private, and to never tell anyone because there would be consequences. When she finally agrees to the survey and told her story, she waited to be scolded by the woman. She realized that the woman did not give Barbie a voice, but rater an ear to listen, and that it is okay to talk about what a person is going through. Society has to do the same, and not look down upon those who are less fortunate, and not try to give people a voice. Society has to encourage poor people to raise their voice and speak for themselves, and society must simply listen, react, and above all, love.
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