Characterization In The Lesson By Toni Cade Bambara

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There is a prevalence of characterization in the short story “The Lesson.” Characterization has multiple forms and is although said to be difficult by Perrine, can be exhibited by a considerably “skilled writer” who can give “insight into human beings to describe convincingly who a person is” (Perrine 161). He also states that “ human character is infinitely complex, variable, and ambiguous” (Perrine 161). . Therefore, it can sometimes be difficult to convey and may often be depicted in the reader’s mind as different than what is intended. Henceforth, Perrine making the statement about how only a “skilled writer” can truly characterize properly. Toni Cade Bambara utilizes prime elements of characterization to display the main characters in…show more content…
The first principle, as Perrine states, is that “characters are consistent in their behavior: they do not behave one way on one occasion and a different way on another unless there is a clear and sufficient reason for the change” (Perrine 163). In “The Lesson”, Sylvia’s attitude is a very clear aspect of her. It almost seems like the reason for her behavior and strung out attitude is because she wants to act tough and that because of the area she is from around town, she must hold up this image. An education, to her, is for those who have money and want to sit on that and be content with such a living. Sylvia has grown up in a poverty stricken area of town and only hears what she is told and sees glamour, not much in between. Her condescending outlook is represented by a lot of her demeanor, for example when she “leaning on the mailbox being surly” (Bambara 1). The second principle Perrine discusses is the use of “characters’ words and actions” (Perrine 163) that spring up from motivations. These motivations are to make the reader “understand and believe” (Perrine 163), because if the reader “can’t understand why they behave in a certain way immediately, that understanding comes by the end of the story” (Perrine 163), however in this case, is visible throughout. Sylvia says what she does because of her lifestyle and upbringing. Since she is characterized so well by Bambara with indirect presentation, the reader is led to create some of his or her own interpretations about her background. As Sylvia narrates she claims she feels “funny, shame” (Bambara 4) but then continues by contradicting her own thought in saying “But what’s to be shamed about? Got as much right to go in as anybody” (Bambara 4). This exemplifies how Sylvia seems to have one foot in the door and the other out because she doesn’t know if she wants to give up not accepting this, the truth

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