Blues Ain't No Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Toni Cade Bambara

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In Toni Cade Bambara's "Blues Ain't No Mockin' Bird," who are Smilin' man and Camera man?

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Toni Cade Bambara's short story "Blues Ain't No Mockin' Bird" is about a rural black family whose privacy and dignity is invaded by a pair of bumbling county workers.

The county workers are shooting scenes for a documentary about the county food stamp program. The fact that they show up at the family's home implies that they think the family is needy. The workers find out, however, that the family is proud and hardworking.

The narrator generalizes the two workers by naming them "Smilin'" and "Camera." In so doing, she associates their prejudicial attitudes with those of society in general. Smilin' and Camera just assume things about the black family, like many others in society would. Ironically, the narrator is critical of their stereotypical perspective while actually stereotyping them herself. It is also a way of showing that the two county workers are of no importance to the family beyond their reason for being on their property.

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