Blues Ain't No Mockingbird

by Toni Cade Bambara
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Why are the photographers filming in the area in "Blues Ain't No Mockingbird"?

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The photographers appear to be filming in the area on behalf of the county for the food stamp program.

In the story, two men are taking pictures of the area residents, their homes, and their belongings. Although the men appear friendly, Grandma isn't too happy about their intrusion into the family's private lives. She tells them to go, but they insist that they need the pictures. One of them asks Grandma if she would make a statement for the film, but she declines to do so. He observes that she has a garden and comments

"I see you grow your own vegetables,” he smiled real nice. “If more folks did that, see, there’d be no need—”

The speaker leaves his sentence unfinished but what is his insinuation? Is he trying to suggest that people should be more proactive in securing their own welfare by growing their own produce? Here, the author uses a literary device called aposiopesis, which literary means 'becoming silent.' It presents a dramatic effect and leads the reader to question what the men's motives are for taking pictures. So, on the surface, the men are taking pictures for the food stamp program, but their resolute persistence and inconsiderate behavior (at one stage, they are standing in Grandma's flower bed) calls into question what their true motives really are.

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