In "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara, what methods are used to characterize Squeaky?
Author use both direct and indirect characterizations to define ad describe their characters. A direct characterization allows authors to define a character openly and directly. Readers are not required to infer about the characteristics being described. Indirect characterizations, on the other hand, force a reader to evaluate the actions, thoughts, and dialogue surrounding a character in order to define and understand the character (in essence, the reader is making inferences (educated guesses) about the character). In regards to the characterizations provided by Toni Cade Bambara in "Raymond's Run," Squeaky is defined both directly and indirectly.
The opening sentence of the story provides an example of indirect characterization:
I don’t have much work to do around the house like some girls. My mother does that. And I don’t have to earn my pocket money by hustling; George runs errands for the big boys and sells Christmas cards. And anything else that’s got to get done, my father does. All I have to do in life is mind my brother Raymond, which is enough.
Here, readers can infer that Squeaky is a character with little responsibility. She does not work in her house, doesn't have to scam for money, and does not have to run errands. All she must do is take care of her brother. Initially, this does not seem like much (outside of her saying that taking care of Raymond is enough).
Soon after this initial characterization, readers are offered a direct characterization: "skinny arms and a squeaky voice." This specifically tells readers about Squeaky. Readers are given a very specific image of her: a girl with skinny arms and a high, mouse-like voice.
In the same paragraph, Squeaky offers up readers another indirect characterization (of herself) when describing her competition (Gretchen) in the May Day race: "In the second place, she’s got short legs. In the third place, she’s got freckles. In the first place, no one can beat me." Here, readers can infer that Squeaky does not have short legs or freckles and that she is a faster runner than Gretchen.
Bambara cleverly uses both direct and indirect characterizations to provide a very dynamic image of Squeaky.