How can the girls smile at each other with genuine respect when only one of them wins the race in "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara? 

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A game of sport involves two opponents or two opposing teams. The objective is to win by defeating the other. Yet it’s not a war. It involves some universally accepted ethics. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, 'sportsmanship' is “fair play, respect for opponents, and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition.”

Thus, other than one’s skill, a game of sport also tests one’s patience and conduct in the field.

In ‘Raymond’s Run,’ neither Hazel nor Gretchen takes to unfair means to win the race. They give their best and compete without any malice for each other.

When the winner is announced, Hazel looks at Gretchen and smiles as an acknowledgement of her good running.

 “And I smile. Cause she’s good, no doubt about it. Maybe she’d like to help me coach Raymond; she obviously is serious about running, as any fool can see.”

Gretchen reciprocates and answers her back with a smile.

“And she nods to congratulate me and then she smiles. And I smile.|”

Respect for and appreciation of the opponent is one of the most admirable qualities in a sportsman. Though not so common, it exhibits one’s strong sense of sports ethics. At the end we are filled with admiration for both Hazel and Gretchen, because of the smiles they exchange. Actually, with the smiles they express their respect and appreciation for one another.

Both these young girls, therefore, smile because they are bestowed with the true sportsman spirit.

kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of Toni Cade Bambara's story "Raymond's Run," Squeaky and Gretchen finish the race, and both of them smile even though only one of them wins.

"We stand there with this big smile of respect between us. It's about as real a smile as girls can do for each other, considering we don't practice real smiling every day..." (Bambara 13)

How can that be? Shouldn't Squeaky be the only one smiling since her name was just announced as the winner of the race? What the reader knows is that the race was extremely close. It was so close, as a matter of fact, that neither girl knew for sure who had won until the man on the loudspeaker makes his announcement. They both know the race could have gone either way. At this moment, they have a new respect for each other, and that is what their shared smile says. The girls are both winners.