The Meaning Behind the Sailboat

In the short story, “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, Miss Moore takes a group of children into the city to go window shopping. While none of the kids understand what the point of it was, Miss Moore had her intentions. They stumble upon a toy store and see a sailboat in the window, “Hand-crafted sailboat of fiberglass at one thousand one hundred twenty-five dollars,” (112). These kids come from poor families and the idea of a toy costing that much in unimaginable to them. Sylvia, the narrator, says, “I read it again for myself just in case the group recitation put me in a trance. Same thing. For some reason this pisses me off.” (112). Miss Moore’s secret lesson is that some people have a worry free life, where others don’t. How the money spent on a thousand dollar toy sail boat could help a struggling family of six or seven. Sugar, one of the kids, starts to understand it. “that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack as the dough, don’t it?” (115). Unfortunately, some people have to worry about how they will afford dinner and rent, where others don’t even have to think twice if there will be food when they get home. Life is unfair sometimes is what I believe Miss Moore was teaching.

2 thoughts on “The Meaning Behind the Sailboat

  1. AVERY M

    It was really interesting how Sugar was the only one to accept the lesson and actaully engage Miss Moore in convesation about it. I do think though that Sylvia understood the lesson or started to, but had too much pride to admit it to Miss Moore or even herself.



    I agree, I think that Miss. Moore’s lesson is that there is a lot of economic inequalities that people are facing and that this sailboat is an example of this. Some people have the luxury of buying it while some people need that money to satisfy basic needs. I think another important take away from this is that this short story that takes place in the past still resonates with society today.


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