How have Squeaky's priorities changed by the end of the story?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning of her story, the first-person narrator Squeaky, tells about herself and her goals; however, at the end of the narrative, Squeaky acquires a new focus: her brother Raymond and his own potential as a runner.

Squeaky's altered focus brings her new maturity. While Squeaky loves and protects her brother Raymond, her perception of him as mentally-challenged and in need of protection is altered to one of envisioning Raymond as a champion on his own. This alteration of view point changes at the May Day race in which Squeaky is again participating. As she bends down, preparing for the starting gun, Squeaky notices her brother on the other side of the fence. He, too, is “bending down with his fingers on the ground just like he knew what he was doing.” Then, as she races down the lane, Squeaky glances through the fence at Raymond, "on his first run," who runs well, but in a unique manner as his palms are tucked up behind him; nevertheless, this posture works for Raymond. 
    When she quickly looks forward, Squeaky sees the finish ribbon and breaks through it. Then, she hears Raymond shaking the fence and calling to her.

...but he keeps rattling the fence like a gorilla in a cage like in them gorilla movies, but then like a dancer or something he starts climbing up nice and easy but very fast.

After watching how easily Raymond climbs the fence and again runs with his palms up behind him, it suddenly occurs to Squeaky, "Raymond would make a very fine runner." As she considers this new idea, Squeaky reflects

...I’ve got a roomful of ribbons and medals and awards. But what has Raymond got to call his own? So I stand there with my new plans, laughing out loud.

In her excitement of thinking about Raymond's new future ahead of him, Squeaky also considers asking her competitor, Gretchen Lewis, if she would like to help her coach her brother. These new loving thoughts of Squeaky bring her great joy and she has a "real smile" for Gretchen as she receives her second prize.