What is the flashback in "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird"?Toni Cade Bambara's "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Flashback is an interruption in the chronological order of a narrative to describe an event that happened earlier.  A flashback gives readers information that may help explain the main events of the story. Usually flashbacks occur with a character who is the narrator in the story; however, in Bambara's "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird" the flashback is narrated by Granny rather than the young girl who narrates the rest of the story.

Annoyed by the two men who appear in her yard with cameras, filming their home and possessions, Granny recalls a memory of having been on a bridge where a man was going to jump.  A crowd formed, watching the man and a minister and a policeman who tried to talk the man out of committing suicide.  His woman was nearby, biting into her hand in nervousness.  And, while the man was ready to jump and the two other men talked to the man while his woman stood nervously by, there was a person with a camera, Granny says, 

"taking pictures of the man in his misery about to jump, cause life so bad.  This person takin up the whole roll of film practically.  But savin a few, of course."

This flashback, of course, reveals much about Granny and her reactions to the men with the camera who are on her property.  To Granny, like the person on the bridge, these men have no respect for the private actions of others, and merely want the opportunity to sensationalize life and sell their pictures.  In short, Granny finds the men with the camera despicable; she has no tolerance for their patronizing behavior towards her and her family.

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