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At the beginning of the story, Squeaky sees her job as being the sole protector of her little brother, Raymond. Raymond is mentally challenged and Squeaky is willing to take on anyone who challenges or makes fun of him but she also sees her brother as somewhat of a burden. She does not see Raymond's potential as a runner. However, during the May Day race, she notices something for the first time. She writes, "it occurred to me that Raymond would make a very fine runner. Doesn’t he always keep up with me on my trots? And he surely knows how to breathe in counts of seven cause he’s always doing it at the dinner table, which drives my brother George up the wall." Squeaky realizes that even if she doesn't win the race, she can always coach Raymond and do other things herself. The realization allows Squeaky to also recognize the good qualities in her rival, Gretchen, and the two girls smile at each other. This implies a future friendship between the two girls and a realization that her brother also possesses talents. So Squeaky is freed to become both a friend to Gretchen and less of a protector and more of a coach to Raymond.
When the story begins, Squeaky is very eager to prove herself by winning every race she runs in, and she also devotes herself to protecting her brother Raymond, who is developmentally disabled, by threatening anyone who menaces him. She spends a great deal of time practicing her stride and her running so she can be the best, and she sees Raymond as someone to protect and other girls as people to keep up her guard around.
However, by the end of the story, she realizes that Raymond has his own capacities as a runner and that she can coach him to be a runner. She comes to understand that he is more capable than she had thought and that her role is not merely to defend him as one would defend a child but also to nurture him and encourage him to get some glory. In addition, she realizes that she and her running rival, Gretchen, can be friends and partners rather than merely rivals. In recognizing the new relationship that she might have with Gretchen, Squeaky comes to understand that girls can help each other rather than just be rivals.
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