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The Maturity and Tolerance of Lou in "The War of The Wall" by Toni Cade Bambara

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The War of the Wall Analytical Essay

“Lou dragged me away because I was about to grab hold of the ladder and shake it.” In the narrator’s perspective, he wanted so badly to just knock her off, not even warn her politely at first. After all, she had no right to invade their privacy. But before the narrator could do the wrong thing, Lou prevented the painter lady from any further embarrassment, which shows more maturity and tolerance in Lou. In the story, “The War of the Wall,” Lou and the narrator at first disapproved of the painter lady, “stealing their wall away from them,” but eventually, they come to learn she was only trying to honor their society.

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One day out of the blue, the painter lady walked in on Lou and the narrator’s lives, painting their precious wall that held a special spot in their hearts. Before this unexpected nuisance arrived, Lou and the narrator never guessed that such a familiar childhood memory could slip from their fingers so easily. Their memories of their role model, Jimmy Lyons, would be gone. Instinctively, Lou and the narrator had to do whatever it took to grasp “their” possession back where it belonged. In their arms. “You’re not even from around here,” the narrator hollered at the painter lady, after spotting her New York license plate. Immediately, the boys judged her to be a thoughtless foreigner. Unfortunately, right at the wrong time, the painter lady demanded food right after declining fresh food made by two innocent girls, sinking her reputation down the drain, making her a liar. To add on to this unlucky chain of events, the painter lady ate noisily like a pig and kept picking out minor “flaws” which actually made the culture’s food all the tastier. At this, other restaurant clients and the restaurant owner burst into flames. But what did she care? After all, all she did was ignore, ignore, ignore. At first, the painter lady was just an irritation, a little fly, capable of being crushed any second. But now, it was time for the narrator to roll up his sleeves and play dirty, tipping the ladder. And that’s when Lou stopped any further trouble. This presents the fact that Lou is a follower, a sidekick, treading behind the narrator until there are actually serious consequences. Instead, Lou and the narrator bought spray paint to damage the work the painter lady completed. Ironically, this unreasonable tactic was inspired by their elders looking down on graffiti. “Daddy called it ‘graffiti.’ Grandmama called it a shame.” This shows how desperate the boys are to stop her, sacrificing their childhood memories to get a smug feeling. Now, it wasn’t only about protection of their wall; it was also about ego.

Right when Lou and the narrator returned from their purchase, her beautiful, new artwork was unveiled, the new wall. The boys and other members of the neighborhood peered and gaped in amazement at the wall. Jaws dropping, paints slipping, Lou and the narrator felt something. It was sympathy, regret, and the realization of their misunderstandings. The vibrant “swirls of purples and oranges” reminded the community on Taliaferro Street of their origins in Africa. Lou and the narrator realized they didn’t need the old memories of Jimmy Lyons because there could always be new memories and that they were too quick to judge. In addition, the vivid illustrations included a small dedication space that filled the small void in Lou and the narrator’s hearts: “I Dedicate This Wall of Respect in Memory of My Cousin Jimmy Lyons.” Shocking as it was to the people who gave a negative outlook on her, the painter lady actually did have relations to this small area. After all this, the painter lady actually turned out to be the opposite of how they thought she was.

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All in all, the basic moral of this story is that you may know someone’s name, but you may not know their story. Take a chance to know people before you can judge them. After all, making decisions on a whim is not always the brightest idea. In other words, don’t to judge a book by its cover. However, we all know we do, so this short story also conveys that you should give people second chances. More times than not, people can really surprise you.

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The Maturity and Tolerance of Lou in “The War of the Wall” by Toni Cade Bambara. (2018, October 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 9, 2023, from
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