Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
The first-person narrator, Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, known as Squeaky, is a young girl growing up in the Harlem section of New York City. Squeaky prides herself on her performance on the track and her ability to care for her mildly retarded brother Raymond.
A little girl with skinny arms and a high-pitched voice, Squeaky is a self-confident, cocky youngster who boasts that everyone knows she is the fastest thing on two feet. Squeaky takes her running seriously; she is not afraid to practice high stepping out on the street where anyone can see her. She is also a responsible and caring child. Although Raymond is actually older, Squeaky thinks of him as her little brother because he is less bright than she is. She is proud of her ability to care for him, protecting him from the taunts and threats of other children.
The May Day celebration in the park includes a race, but the most important event is the maypole dancing. Squeaky has refused to participate because she is uncomfortable getting all dressed up in a white dress and shoes to dance. She is a practical girl who describes herself as “a poor Black girl who really can’t afford to buy shoes and a new dress you only wear once.” She is there to compete in the track meet. Secure in her identity as a runner, she explains that she uses her feet for running, not dancing.
Squeaky’s main competition is a new girl, Gretchen Lewis, whom Squeaky has tried to size up on the basis of a few brief contacts. When...
(The entire section is 613 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
“Raymond’s Run” appears in the collection Gorilla, My Love and has been published independently as a work of young-adult fiction. The story features twelve-year-old Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, who narrates the story. Nicknamed Squeaky for her high-pitched voice, she is a competitive runner, as is her older brother, Raymond, her unofficial training partner. Because he has Down syndrome, neither the community nor his family expects him to succeed in life. The Parkers seem to have accepted Raymond’s limitations, but Squeaky is cognizant of her parents’ embarrassment over her tomboyish activities. A connection is implied between Raymond’s developmental disability and Squeaky’s supposed gender deviance, both apparently aberrations of nature.
Squeaky’s independent spirit refuses to bow to social constraints, however, and she ignores maternal advice that would retard her pace. Recalling how she danced in a school pageant, Squeaky critiques her parents and the social norms they attempted to enforce: “You’d think they’d know better than to encourage that kind of nonsense. I am not a strawberry. I do not dance on my toes. I run. That is what I am all about.” Confident in her self-knowledge, Squeaky pushes the boundaries of socially prescribed norms.
Readers are privy to the thoughts, emotions, and attitudes of the unabashed Squeaky, a skinny black girl whose sole ambition is to cross the finish line first. Among the...
(The entire section is 437 words.)