Various symbols are used in "The Lesson," by Toni Cade Bambara, to represent the social and economic inequality faced by the children in this story. The children, not that they asked for it, are dealt the bad hand by fate. It is up to them to decide what to do about it or even to do anything at all.
A great deal of symbolism can be found by simply examining the name Ms. Moore. Marital status does not define her - notice the Ms. Quite frankly, the reader is not even informed if she is married or even if she has children of her own. She is a very independent woman. Not only does the prefix of Ms. Moore represent that she is independent, but her last name also shows the she wants more for the children, because, according to her, they deserve more. Her purpose is to help the children realize that there is a world outside of Harlem that they can aspire to. Although F.A.O. Schwartz is just a small part of that world, the trip here with Ms. Moore shows the children a great deal about what the outside world is like and how anyone can have that piece of the pie.
Even though the children could never afford the toys, Ms. Moore brings them to the store to show them they have just as much right to be there and just as much right to live the rich life as anyone else. Sylvia, the narrator, is upset by the inequality. She is jealous of the life she can`t have and is angry that Ms. Moore would expose her to these facts. Although, Sylvia would never let her know this.