The Lesson from `The Lesson`
Reading Plato ‘s Allegory of the Cave in Bambara ‘s The Lesson
In establishing the meaning of Toni Cade Bambara ‘s short story The Lesson ‘ one will find an uncanny resemblance of the characters and their situation with Plato ‘s Allegory of the Cave ‘ Hence , it will prove useful to read the story using Plato ‘s thesis in Allegory , which posits that human beings often only see a shadow of reality , which allows for various interpretations of the truth . Plato used the Allegory to demonstrate that while every human being is imbued with [banner_entry_middle]
the capacity for learning , real knowledge will only be attained through rigorous scholarship and the development of an acute sense and critical understanding of what is really true and what are merely trapping and distractions . This will therefore identify Plato ‘s main arguments as reflected in Bambara ‘s The Lesson
The Allegory of the Cave starts with Socrates (presumably a teacher describing to Glaucon (the student ) a situation where human beings living all their lives in an underground cave , their legs and necks chained , unable to see anything except things that are directly before them . A fire is blazing above and behind the humans from a distance while a low wall resembling the screen used by the marionette players in a puppet show stands between the fire and the prisoners . Socrates continues by juxtaposing the images of men passing along the wall , whom we are told , are seen as shadows on the wall by the prisoners in the cave . The activity of the chained characters then move from the perception of the shadows cast on the wall to attempting at creating a of what they perceive , and when they hear the men talking they foolishly assume that it is the shadows on the wall who are doing so
Here , Plato likens the unenlightened mind ‘ to a chained human being whose vision of the world is superficial and myopic . This could also be interpreted as the state of one ‘s mind when one is young and has not had the benefit of extensive life experience . Bambara ‘s The Lesson echoes this when Sylvia , the narrator , begins her tale this way back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish and me and Sugar were the only ones just right this lady moved on our block with nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup ‘ which shows how the main character perceived that their truth was the ultimate Truth , much like the chained characters in the cave
The of the nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup is therefore comparable to the shadow seen by the cave prisoners whom they are quick to label and judge according to their limited means There is also a similarity in the setting of the two narratives Bambara ‘s impoverished and marginalized Black community is similar to Plato ‘s cave in the sense that both are confining spaces that restrict its dwellers from mobility… [banner_entry_footer]
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