The Lesson Essay

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In the following excerpt, Vertreace identifies five stages of identity formation in Bambara's fiction and shows how the community plays a role in educating "beginners" in "The Lesson."

The question of identity—of personal definition within the context of community—emerges as a central motif for Toni Cade Bambara's writing. Her female characters become as strong as they do, not because of some inherent "eternal feminine" quality granted at conception, but rather because of the lessons women learn from communal interaction. Identity is achieved, not bestowed. Bambara's short stories focus on such learning. Very careful to present situations in a highly orchestrated manner, Bambara describes the difficulties that her characters must overcome.

Contemporary literature teems with male characters in coming-of-age stories or even female characters coming of age on male typewriters. Additional stories, sometimes written by black authors, indeed portray such concerns but narrowly defined...

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This section contains 1,134 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Lesson Study Guide
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The Lesson from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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