Raymond's Run Rising Action

Please show how the events of "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara fit into the five parts of a plot curve: 1. exposition 2. rising action 3. climax 4. falling action 5. denouement.

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The exposition takes place at the beginning of the story and provides the audience with important background information regarding relevant events, settings, and characters. In Toni Cade Bambara's short story "Raymond's Run," the exposition includes Squeaky's description of herself and her mentally disabled older brother, Raymond. The audience learns that Squeaky is a fast runner and esteemed sprinter, who lives in Harlem, New York. Squeaky enjoys practicing running. She is in charge of watching Raymond, who follows her everywhere and who is rather difficult to look after.

The rising action includes Squeaky's tense interaction with Mary Louise, Rosie, and Gretchen, which takes place while Squeaky is strolling down Broadway with Raymond. Squeaky sticks up for Raymond when the girls make snide remarks. She is determined to beat her new rival Gretchen at the May Day races. The rising action also includes Squeaky arriving at the local May Day celebration to participate in the fifty-yard dash. The rising action continues as Squeaky makes her way to the starting line and ends when the climax begins.

The climax includes Squeaky racing against Gretchen in the fifty-yard dash. During the race, Squeaky notices that Raymond is running stride-for-stride with her on the outside of the fence and is impressed by his speed. The falling action includes Squeaky hearing the results of the race and thinking about coaching Raymond. Squeaky believes that Raymond could become an excellent runner, and she is willing to help him achieve his potential. The denouement includes Squeaky smiling at Gretchen and entertaining the idea of asking her to help coach Raymond.

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The events in "Raymond's Run" fit into a five-part structure, as follows:

  • Exposition: Squeaky explains her family's situation and provides the background to the story. She explains her brother Raymond's disabilities and that she has to watch out for him. She also explains her prowess at running.
  • Rising action: This includes the parts of the story that develop the plot until it reaches the climax of the action. The rising action in this story includes Squeaky's meeting with Gretchen and her friends and the announcement of the May Day races. It also includes Squeaky's arrival at the track for the race and her preparations before the race.
  • Climax: The climax of the story is Squeaky's race as she competes with the antagonist of the story, Gretchen.
  • Falling action: In this part of the story, the protagonist and antagonist are no longer at odds with each other. Squeaky and Gretchen smile at each other after the race and appreciate each other as fellow runners.
  • Denouement: In this section, conflicts are forgotten. Squeaky plans to ask Gretchen to help her train Raymond. She sees Gretchen as a friend, not just as competition.
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"Raymond's Run" by Tonie Cade Bambara has very little actual plot; nevertheless, it does contain the elements of a traditional plot line.

Exposition - this is found in the first five paragraphs of the story. In it we learn who is narrating the story (Squeaky), we find out she is a fast runner, we meet her mentally challenged brother (Raymond) and get the background on how Raymond lives his life (imaginatively and without any care for what others think) as well as how people usually treat him (insensitively, like he is some kind of freak show).

Rising action - the inciting action (point at which things somehow begin) is the stroll Squeaky and Raymond take, and everything that happens to them between then and the climax is rising action. This would include the conflict between Hazel and Gretchen, getting Raymond settled into the swing before the race, getting ready for the race, and even the race itself.

Climax - this is supposed to be the point of greatest interest or intensity, and some might say it is either when Hazel runs the race or when the announcer proclaims that she is the winner; however, these things seem rather anti-climactic to me because, from the beginning of the story, there is little doubt that the determined and prepared Hazel will win the race. This moment seems to be much more of a turning point for Hazel:

And I’m smiling to beat the band cause if I’ve lost this race, or if me and Gretchen tied, or even if I’ve won, I can always retire as a runner and begin a whole new career as a coach with Raymond as my champion.

This is a significant moment because suddenly--and rather unexpectedly--Hazel does not care whether she wins her race or not. After seeing Raymond racing with her along the outside of the fence, she discovers there is something else she could be successful at doing, something that might matter as much as or more than just being the fastest runner in her class. After all, "what has Raymond got to call his own?" This is big, since until now, the only thing she has worked toward is running. Now she has the confidence that she can apply her work ethic and drive to other things and still be successful. 

Falling action - there is only one paragraph left in the story after this climax, so there is very little falling action. In fact, it is probably just the announcement that Hazel has, indeed, won the race.

Denouement - this is the final act of the story and it, too, is quite short: Gretchen and Hazel smile at each other.

We stand there with this big smile of respect between us.

In this one simple act, their relationship has changed from rivals to friends, and there is no more to be said.

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