Hazel is true to herself because she stands up for herself and her brother.
Hazel is true to herself because she does not let other people manipulate her. The mean girls like Gretchen try to convince her that they are better than her because her brother is weird, but her brother is important to her. She sticks to the things that matter to her in her life. She will defend her brother and her honor. Hazel realizes that Raymond can run, and when she wins the race and she has something that can be common ground with him, it is like no one else matters.
So I stand there with my new plans … And by the time he comes over I’m jumping up and down so glad to see him—my brother Raymond, a great runner in the family tradition.
Hazel does not let anyone else get her down. Even when she thinks she might have gotten second place, she is not worried. She is excited about the possibility of Raymond being a runner and coaching him, because it gives her something in common with him. Raymond has always been someone she stood up for, but they have not necessarily been close, because even though he is older he is mentally younger. If she has found something he is interested in and good at, she can be involved in his life and he can be involved in hers. It is for this reason that she can smile at Gretchen.
It’s about as real a smile as girls can do for each other, considering we don’t practice real smiling every day, you know, cause maybe we too busy being flowers or fairies or strawberries instead of something honest and worthy of respect . . . you know . . . like being people.
She knows that Gretchen is a rival, and that she and the other kids tease her brother, but she feels that she can hold her own against the other girls. Hazel is happy that she won the race, but she also knows that they did not win in other ways. Hazel is mature. She will take care of her brother, and she will be okay.