Blues Ain't No Mockingbird

by Toni Cade Bambara

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In "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird," explain what the two men are doing on the Cain family's property.

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The two men are on the property to make a film about the county's food stamp program.

In the story, the two men are referred to as Camera and Smilin. They ask Granny Cain for permission to take pictures of her property. For her part, Granny Cain isn't overly enthusiastic about the request. She feels that the men have trespassed her property and also crossed the boundaries of common courtesy.

Although Granny Cain quietly tells the men to stop filming, they ignore her. They insist that they are there on behalf of the county and even ask her to make a statement for the film. One of the men comments upon Granny Cain's garden. Although his words are cut off, we can make some speculations about what he was trying to say.

“Maybe there’s somethin you want to say for the film. I see you grow your own vegetables,” he smiled real nice. “If more folks did that, see, there’d be no need—”

Essentially, the men want to find out whether the county food stamp program has been effective. Perhaps, based on the quote above, they are trying to substantiate the necessity of the food stamp program. The author does not provide more details.

What is plain, however, is that Granny Cain does not appreciate the presence of trespassers on her property.

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In "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird," the two men who are on Granny Cain's property are filmmakers. They also have their cameraman with them. Only one of the two men is given a name by the narrator. She calls him Smilin because he never stops smiling. The other man doesn't do much talking and so the narrator doesn't give him a name. The narrator calls their cameraman Camera. She notes that his shoulder stays raised even when the camera is removed, as it was when Granddaddy requested with a look and a gesture that the camera be given to him.

Smilin and his two companions are working for the county in the South where Granny Cain and Granddaddy Cain live with their family. The county hired the two men and the cameraman to make a documentary film about the Federal and State Food Stamp Program in the county. They have it in their heads that Granny's house looks like a good place to include in their documentary film. Granny thinks otherwise.

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