At the beginning of the story, what does the narrator reveal about her family and her own responsibility in the family? How does she feel about this responsibility?
The first paragraph of the story introduces readers to the narrator, Squeaky. She quickly introduces readers to her family and the fact that her family has set up a system of labor for each family member. Her mom is a stay at home mother, George runs errands, and her dad takes care of anything that needs taking care of:
George runs errands for the big boys and sells Christmas cards. And anything else that’s got to get done, my father does.
Squeaky's job is to take care of her brother, Raymond. Raymond is her older brother, but it is her job to take care of him due to his mental and physical disability. Squeaky never gives her readers a diagnosis, but she does tell readers that Raymond's head is larger than normal. She hints at some mental handicap when she says that Raymond is not "quite right":
But a lot of people call him my little brother cause he needs looking after cause he’s not quite right. And a lot of smart mouths got lots to say about that too, especially when George was minding him. But now, if anybody has anything to say to Raymond, anything to say about his big head, they have to come by me.
Squeaky does not seem to resent having to take care of her brother. She does not claim to love it, but she does not claim to dislike it either. What is very clear is that Squeaky takes her job very seriously. It does not matter who Raymond needs protecting from; Squeaky protects him like lion:
“What grade you in now, Raymond?”
“You got anything to say to my brother, you say it to me, Mary Louise Williams of Raggedy Town, Baltimore.”
“What are you, his mother?” sasses Rosie.
“That’s right, Fatso. And the next word out of anybody and I’ll be their mother too.”
Toni Cade Bambara opens her short story “Raymond’s Run” with a description of the family responsibilities in Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker’s home life. Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, also known as Squeaky, is mainly responsible for taking care of her older, disabled brother. Her mother performs the household chores and does not expect Squeaky to pitch in. Her other brother, George, provides spending money by selling Christmas cards and doing jobs for the “big boys” who exist in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Her father is responsible for anything else the family needs. Each family member has their own responsibilities and Squeaky feels that taking care of her brother is plenty for her since she needs to practice her running and breathing.
This is a rather tradition division of responsibilities that shows how each member of the family makes an important contribution. Although it may be a bit unorthodox for her brother to run errands for the “big boys” it shows that the family is trusted in the neighborhood. Because Squeaky takes care of her brother, her mother performs all of the housework without the need to worry about who is looking after her disabled son. Her father plays an important role by carrying the weight of the other family responsibilities.