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Subject "The Lesson"
Posted by yihsien
Posted on Tue Mar 21 11:43:10 2000
From IP c550-38.svdcc.fju.edu.tw  

This short story bascally deals with one major issue, education, which is brought out through the two sets of binaries in the text: teacher-student relationship and the difference between upper and lower class. Furthermore, there's another set of binary existing within the two main sets of binaries, superiority and inferiority.
The characters in the story are not complicated. There's only a teacher and a group of students, who are obviously taking the opposite roles. Accoding to the narattor, they don't have a good relationship towards each
other. The narrator seems to have all kinds of reasons to hate Miss Moore, but the main reason , as I find out, is the "goddamn college degree." From her narration, her use of language is pretty liberal without paying attention to grammar and spelling. And this shows her lack of education. Therefore, this forms a stron contrast to Miss Moore's college degree. Being competitive, Sylvia subconsciously espises her teacher in private an takes it for granted that she's the one just right. It's not diffcult to know that there is a sense of inferority lurking in her arrogance. As reellious as Sylvia, she's always thinking about taking advantage of Miss Moore and to be in her own way. And this is because of the aversion she has towards Miss Moore and her college degree. So Miss Moore, in some way, becomes one of the factors that declines Sylvia's pride.
The difference between wealth and poverty is also shown in the story. Their visit to the toy store in downtown is unquestionably the climax coming along this issue. There, Sylvia's pride is totally shattered. In stead, the shame occupies her. Compared to those so-called well-to-do, Sylvia and her friends can not afford the toys n the store. Sylvia herself don't even have the courage to go into hte store. "Not that I'scared, what's there to be afraid of, just a toy store. But I feel funny, shame. But that I got to be shame about...But somehow I can't seem to get hold of the door, so I step away for Sugar to lead. But she hangs back too." This is the turning point. Sylvia's pride is replaced with the shame. suddenly, she comes to realize how reality makes everything different.
Finally, I would like to talk about the structure of the story based on the narrator's feeling. In the beginning, the narrator is presented as a proud and self-centerd schoolgirl who denies almost everything. however, the reality makes her face herself and brings shame on her. The visit to the toy store distinguishes her from those from upper class. She eventually gets the lesson and knows that she may not be the one just right and her dignity is hurt at the same time.



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