How does Toni Cade Bambara create authentic voice in the narrative of Squeaky?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Toni Cade Bambara creates authentic voice for Squeaky as she narrates “Raymond’s Run” by using colloquialisms and language that is appropriate for a child of Squeaky’s age. Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, also known as Squeaky, is the first person narrator of the story, which provides the reader with her point of view. As Squeaky relates the story she uses words such as cause in place of because, and ain’t instead of are not. This is common in children her age, but it is also common in one whose education is incomplete. In addition, Squeaky uses the colloquial language of the streets of her Harlem neighborhood. All of these techniques engage the reader in Squeaky's world and identify her personality.

But now, if anybody has anything to say to Raymond, anything to say about his big head, they have to come by me. And I don’t play the dozens or believe in standing around with somebody in my face doing a lot of talking. I much rather just knock you down and take my chances even if I am a little girl with skinny arms and a squeaky voice, which is how I got the name Squeaky.

Squeaky’s language is a window into her personality. She is brash, straight forward, and a bit irreverent, but she is insecure with her identity.

So I’m strolling down Broadway breathing out and breathing in on counts of seven, which is my lucky number, and here comes Gretchen and her sidekicks: Mary Louise, who used to be a friend of mine when she first moved to Harlem from Baltimore and got beat up by everybody till I took up for her on account of her mother and my mother used to sing in the same choir when they were young girls, but people ain’t grateful, so now she hangs out with the new girl Gretchen and talks about me like a dog; and Rosie, who is as fat as I am skinny and has a big mouth where Raymond is concerned and is too stupid to know that there is not a big deal of difference between herself and Raymond and that she can’t afford to throw stones.

By providing the reader with Squeaky’s internal dialogue, the thoughts that are developing in her mind, the reader comes to know the little girl as she has a revelation about her character and self-worth.