What is a short summary of "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The young narrator of "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara is a girl everyone calls Squeaky. She does two things well: she takes care of her older mentally challenged brother Raymond and she runs. 

Squeaky does not mind taking care of Raymond, but it does take a lot of her time, which is why she has virtually no other household chores. She manages to do that while she consistently practices her running. When she and Raymond are walking downtown sometimes, they meet some of Squeaky's female classmates who try to mock Raymond by trying to engage him in a conversation--which of course he cannot conduct with them--but Squeaky shuts them down decisively and quite efficiently.

Squeaky is unabashed about being the quickest runner in town (except for her father), calling herself "Miss Quicksilver" and claiming she will win first, second, and third place in the upcoming May Day race. One of the things that bothers Squeaky a lot is the girls in her class who work very hard to get quite good at the things they do (such as play the piano and spell) but try to make it look like it it a natural talent on which they never spend any time working and practicing. She says:

I could kill people like that. I stay up all night studying the words for the spelling bee. And you can see me any time of day practicing running. I never walk if I can trot.

While the other girls in her class spend their time doing foolish things just because someone suggests they should, Squeaky is adamant that she will not be one of those girls, and she is not. 

On the day of the big May Day race, Squeaky does not participate in the distracting festivities; instead she settles Raymond into a swing on the other side of the fence where he can watch her and she starts preparing for the race. Her only real competition is Gretchen, but Squeaky is unconcerned about her. When Mr. Pearson comes around with his clipboard, he checks Squeaky in and is about to write that nickname when Squeaky stops him. She insists that he write her proper name in its entirely: Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker.

The race is rather a blur to her, as they usually are, but at some point she is shocked to see her brother Raymond running with her along the fence. This prompts her to start thinking that perhaps she would be okay if she did not win (though she does) because she could be Raymond's running coach. She has many gifts, after all, but Raymond has nothing which he can call his own. (This revelation is the inspiration of the title.)

Of course, ever the competitor, Helen Elizabeth Deborah Parker knows that if she stops running, she can always spend her time becoming a star speller or pianist.

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sosman01 | eNotes Newbie

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