Reflecting on Literature and Community in "The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara

Reflecting on Literature and Community in "The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara

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When people tell stories they tend to be about what they know. One thing that most people know is the environment around them. They pick up habits from their family, friends, and neighbors. They begin to talk like them using dialect and slang inherent to their region. Also, it is not uncommon for people to write about a fictional community that is based from their own community. As community affects how we write, writing can also affect the community. In other words, communities influence authors of literature and literature can also influence communities.
Language is how we express ourselves. There are many different languages in our world. Within those languages there are different dialects. Those dialects are affected by the communities that use them. People add slang or shorten words to make the language their own. This has an immense impact on how authors write. Some authors will attempt to use proper English, but often times will use words common to their community.
In “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara (DiYanni, 2007, pp. 427-432) we witness the effects of community on literature first hand. The characters in the story constantly use slang that is associated with African-Americans. One of the best examples is when Sylvia describes Miss Moore as a lady with “…nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup” (p. 427). Other slang words such as “somethinorother” and “gonna” are used in the story. Also Bambara seems to enjoy taking the letter “g” from many present participles such as “thinkin” or misspelling words like “nuthin.” Because Bambara grew up mostly in Harlem these are examples of her environment’s affect on her writing.
Another example of how a community can affect an author’s writing is illustrated in...


... middle of paper ...


...e Rice’s literature. This is a strong example of how an author can affect a community.
Authors obviously can have a great influence on a community. However, the author was also probably influenced by their own community. They incorporate their own heritage and slang into their literary works. Many times they will even write about their own community. Therefore it is quite obvious that community has a great affect on authors and an author can greatly affect a community.


References DiYanni, R. (2007). Literature, reading fiction, poetry, and drama. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Goodlad, L.M.E. & Bibby, M. (2007). Goth: Undead Subculture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

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