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"Raymond's Run" by Tonie Cade Bambara has very little actual plot; nevertheless, it does contain the elements of a traditional plot line.
Exposition - this is found in the first five paragraphs of the story. In it we learn who is narrating the story (Squeaky), we find out she is a fast runner, we meet her mentally challenged brother (Raymond) and get the background on how Raymond lives his life (imaginatively and without any care for what others think) as well as how people usually treat him (insensitively, like he is some kind of freak show).
Rising action - the inciting action (point at which things somehow begin) is the stroll Squeaky and Raymond take, and everything that happens to them between then and the climax is rising action. This would include the conflict between Hazel and Gretchen, getting Raymond settled into the swing before the race, getting ready for the race, and even the race itself.
Climax - this is supposed to be the point of greatest interest or intensity, and some might say it is either when Hazel runs the race or when the announcer proclaims that she is the winner; however, these things seem rather anti-climactic to me because, from the beginning of the story, there is little doubt that the determined and prepared Hazel will win the race. This moment seems to be much more of a turning point for Hazel:
And I’m smiling to beat the band cause if I’ve lost this race, or if me and Gretchen tied, or even if I’ve won, I can always retire as a runner and begin a whole new career as a coach with Raymond as my champion.
This is a significant moment because suddenly--and rather unexpectedly--Hazel does not care whether she wins her race or not. After seeing Raymond racing with her along the outside of the fence, she discovers there is something else she could be successful at doing, something that might matter as much as or more than just being the fastest runner in her class. After all, "what has Raymond got to call his own?" This is big, since until now, the only thing she has worked toward is running. Now she has the confidence that she can apply her work ethic and drive to other things and still be successful.
Falling action - there is only one paragraph left in the story after this climax, so there is very little falling action. In fact, it is probably just the announcement that Hazel has, indeed, won the race.
Denouement - this is the final act of the story and it, too, is quite short: Gretchen and Hazel smile at each other.
We stand there with this big smile of respect between us.
In this one simple act, their relationship has changed from rivals to friends, and there is no more to be said.
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