A great deal of what we know about Squeaky originates from her narration. She is responsible for her brother Raymond who is mentally challenged. She makes sure...
In Toni Cade Bambara's short story "Raymond's Run," people see Squeaky in a much different light than they see Raymond.
A great deal of what we know about Squeaky originates from her narration. She is responsible for her brother Raymond who is mentally challenged. She makes sure he is safe and that no one bothers him. She is an excellent runner, she tells the reader. When she goes to her race, Mr. Pearson corroborates Squeaky's claims about being the fastest runner around:
"Well, Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, going to give someone else a break this year?" I squint at him real hard to see if he is seriously thinking I should lose the race on purpose just to give someone else a break.
Mr. Pearson also supports Squeaky's assertion that no one gets very far trying to push her around—or to even make a point. He tries to suggest that Squeaky might let Gretchen, the new girl, win. His question fades away at the look on Squeaky's face:
"That new girl should give you a run for your money." He looks around the park for Gretchen... "Wouldn't it be a nice gesture if you were...to ahhh..."
I give him such a look he couldn't finish putting that idea into words. Grownups have a lot of nerve sometimes... [I] stomp away, I'm so burnt.
Obviously Squeaky's mother and father have faith in her ability to care for Raymond. The job used to belong to her brother George. His inability to protect Raymond adequately caused their parents to give Squeaky the responsibility— something at which she excels.
The other kids in the neighborhood do not respect Raymond. At the story's beginning, Squeaky shares difficulties Raymond faces:
But a lot people call him my little brother 'cause he needs looking after 'cause he's not quite right. And a lot of smart mouths gots lots to say about that too, especially when George was minding him. But now, if anybody has anything to say to Raymond, anything about his big head, they have to come by me.
Sometimes when Raymond gets away from Squeaky, he'll dart across the street to scatter the pigeons. We can infer that the people gathered there understand Raymond is different than most children, especially when Squeaky arrives to calm everyone:
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 wax-paper lunches in their laps.
This propensity by other kids to give Raymond a difficult time is also seen when Squeaky meets up with Gretchen (her chief competition in the upcoming race) and her "sidekicks," Mary Louise and Rosie.
After a lot of posturing with regard to who is going to win the May Day race, Mary Louise (who used to be Squeaky's friend and should know better) turns to Raymond.
Then they all look at Raymond who has just brought his mule team to a standstill. And they're about to see what trouble they can get into through him.
Mary Louise asks him what grade he is in. Squeaky quickly steps in to protect her brother:
You got anything to say to my brother, you say it to me...
Rosie gets sassy about it, but Squeaky puts her in her place.
While some may see Raymond as a sorry figure or someone easily tormented, Squeaky makes certain that no one bothers her brother, and everyone seems to understand the relationship. (And the reader can see that Raymond is a happy youngster.) Everyone knows that Squeaky is not to be pushed around under any circumstance.