Gorilla, My Love

Marxism and "The Lesson" College

As wealth inequality reached its zenith at the beginning of the 20th century, Marxist concepts such as social injustice and economic inequality became a major subject of discussion in western literature. With the death of Karl Marx in 1883 and the spread of Communism to Russia in 1914, literature became an important front for socialist writers looking to spread their ideas. This is especially true in the United States, where centuries of black oppression had created extreme wealth inequality between white and black Americans. In Toni Cade Bambara's “The Lesson,” the character of Ms. Moore reveals to a group of black children the level of disparity between their lives and those of the white upper classes. As the story develops, a group of children undergo a process socialist awakening as they are made class consciousness by the vulgar extravagances of the upper classes. “The Lesson” serves as a metaphor for the awakening of the ignorant worker class into the socialist revolutionary movement, as they are confronted with the harsh reality of their suffering created by the oppressive bourgeois class.

Before being able to understand the revolutionary and classist undertones in “The Lesson,” we must have a solid understanding of...

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