How does Squeaky protect Raymond in Raymond's Run by Toni Cade Bambara?

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dswain001 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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From the very beginning of the story, it is obvious that Squeaky not only "minds" her brother Raymond, she is his protector. Whenever she is training or practicing her breathing exercises, she is always sure to keep Raymond on the inside of the sidewalk, never close to the street. This way, he won't run into the street or splash in puddles, getting himself wet and dirty. Squeaky has no problem standing up for her brother. When Gretchen and her crew of flunkies try to start trouble with Raymond, Squeaky is quick to tell them; "You got anything to say to my brother you say it to me..."

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skyey-i | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Raymond suffers from cognitive disabilities, and this makes him vulnerable to being ridiculed by others. However, his sister, Squeaky, wouldn’t let anybody taunt him or cause him any harm. Though younger than Raymond, she will always be with him, protecting him and looking after him. She says,

“...if anybody has anything to say to Raymond, anything to say about his big head, they have to come by me... I much rather just knock you down and take my chances...”

So, Squeaky is caring and fearless, and wouldn’t even hesitate to use her fists if somebody dared to mess with Raymond.

When Squeaky encounters Gretchen and her “sidekicks,” Mary Louise and Rosie, we see how promptly she reacts to thwart their attempt to ridicule and humiliate Raymond.

Seeing Raymond, Mary says mockingly, “What grade you in now, Raymond?” Squeaky knows quite well what Mary’s intentions are. So, she replies in her characteristic bold and audacious way,  

“You got anything to say to my brother, you say it to me, Mary Louise Williams of Raggedy Town, Baltimore.”

At this, Rosie says to Squeaky, “What are you, his mother?”

Squeaky silences them all with her brash and cocky reply, “That’s right, Fatso. And the next word out of anybody and I’ll be their mother too.”

So, we see that Squeaky is not only deeply attached to Raymond but considers protecting him to be her utmost responsibility. Earlier in the story, she says,

“All I have to do in life is mind my brother Raymond, which is enough.”

Apart from being teased and ridiculed, Raymond is vulnerable in several other ways. He lives in his own world of fantasies. He imagines himself as a circus performer or a stagecoach driver. If not looked after, he might run into trouble anywhere, anytime.

Raymond often imagines the street curb to be a “tightrope strung high in the air.” Squeaky always keeps an eye on him so that he doesn’t step into a gutter or run into a busy road. Therefore, she always makes sure that he is “walking on the inside to the buildings.”

At times, Raymond will “dash across traffic to the island in the middle of Broadway” to “give pigeons a fit.” This will cause much inconvenience to the people who have gathered there to relax, read newspaper or have lunch. Squeaky will then have to go around apologizing to all. She says,

“Then I have to go behind him apologizing to all the old people sitting around trying to get some sun and getting all upset with the pigeons fluttering around them, scattering their newspapers and upsetting the waxpaper lunches in their laps.”

Thus, we see that Squeaky’s emotional attachment to Raymond is deep and strong. She is always there with Raymond to protect him against any harm or injury. Raymond, too, feels safe and protected in her company.


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