Blues Ain't No Mockingbird

by Toni Cade Bambara

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Topics for Further Study

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The filmmakers in the story, who say they are doing a film for the county on food stamps, note favorably that Granny grows her own vegetables. Research the history of food stamps in the United States, from their institution to the present. Consider the debates on this issue, and use this information to consider why Granny has such a negative reaction to the men’s intrusive filming and, perhaps, to their objective in making the film.

Bambara is known for her use of dialect. Read the story, paying close attention to how Bambara denotes the speech patterns of her characters. Consider what dialects you speak or hear spoken in daily life. Attempt, like Bambara, to transcribe these speech patterns into writing.

‘‘Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird’’ examines the question of stereotyping. The filmmakers and some previous landlords or employers have stereotyped Granny, her family, and home. Discuss these stereotypes and how Bambara counters them. Consider, also, whether Bambara might herself be accused of stereotyping in her fiction.

While ‘‘Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird’’ is not set in any particular place or time, it does seem to take place in the rural South during the 1960s or 1970s. Research conditions of rural poverty in the South during the period, particularly for African Americans. Compare your findings with conditions today.

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