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Squeaky feels that when girls smile at each other, they do not usually mean it.
Squeaky does not believe that girls smile each other genuinely. Behind a girl’s smile is a trick, deceit, or false sincerity. These fake smiles seem to follow her around in her interactions with our girls her age.
Gretchen smiles, but it’s not a smile, and I’m thinking that girls never really smile at each other because they don’t know how and don’t want to know how and there’s probably no one to teach us how, cause grown-up girls don’t know either.
It is an interesting idea. Squeaky seems to be saying that she and the other girls her age do not smile at each other genuinely because they do not have good role models for sincerity.
Squeaky does not feel a connection with anybody her age, especially girls. She is particularly frustrated because she has no close girl friends. While she puts on a brave face, the reader can tell it causes her pain.
For Squeaky, a smile is closely connected with trust and respect. One person she does smile with is Raymond. She cares about and trusts him. After the race, she learns to respect and trust Gretchen too, and the girls share a real smile. Squeaky observes that when the girls were engaged in something real, and not pretending to be girly, like the strawberries in the May Day celebration, they learned to really smile at each other.
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…
This is a real smile because there is respect behind it. It is an adult-like interaction, fueled by maturity. While they may not have had a role model to teach them how to smile, they learned themselves that mutual respect for a job well done develops trust.
The race is a turning point for Squeaky, and the smile demonstrates this. She used something that meant a lot to her, running, to get something that she desperately wanted. She got herself a friend.
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