How do Granny and Granddaddy Cain demonstrate their self-respect in "Blues Ain't No Mockingbird" by Toni Cade Bambara?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Granny and Grandaddy Cain demonstrate their self-respect in the manner that they do not permit the interlopers on their property to film and exploit them.

When the camera man and his companion trespass onto the Cain property, Granny comes out her screen door. The companion, referred to by the narrator/grandchild as Smilin' Man, says to Granny,

"We thought we'd get a shot or two of the house and everything and then--"

But, he is cut off by Granny, who says, "Good mornin," implying that the men could, at least, be polite. When the man observes, "Nice place you got here, Aunty," she contradicts his patronizing attitude with "Your mama and I are not related." Then, she remains silent as the Smilin' Man continues to talk to Granny, explaining why they are filming and asking if she wants to say anything. Granny goes back into the house because she will not remain outside and allow these men to be disrespectful.

When the men do not retreat from the property, Granny appeals to her husband, who has returned with a chicken hawk that he has captured. While Camera Man and Smilin' try to record Granddaddy Cain as he nails the hawk to the tool shed, Granny says to him in a low, moaning voice,

"Get them persons out of my flower bed, Mister Cain."

It is then by his sheer size and strength that Mister Cain convinces the two men to leave the property.  He stretches out his massive hand without saying anything--"...not at all a hand but a person in itself." 

"He wants you to hand him the camera," Smilin whispers to Camera, tiltin his head secret like they...come upon a native that don't speak the language." 

As the man puts the camera into the blood speckled hand of Granddaddy Cain, he curls his fingers around the machine as the other hand slams down on the camera, splitting it apart. The Camera man yells, "Whatcha tryin to do? You'll ruin the film." Nevertheless, Mr. Cain calmly observes, 

"You standin in the misses' flower bed....This is our own place."

After looking at each other and the destroyed camera, the two men back off from the large Mr. Cain. They run down the meadow, trying to keep the film from being exposed.

Granny has shown her strength of character and resolve by asking the men to leave; Granddaddy Cain exhibits his tremendous physical strength that could easily be applied to the men were he angered further. As a result, this strength intimidates the two men into respecting the Cains' property, and they depart.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial