Squeaky and her mother do not seem to be particularly close.
Squeaky’s relationship with her mother is not well-defined in the story, but we can make inferences. They do not seem close. First of all, she calls her “my mother” and not mom. That does not indicate closeness. Then the incidents she describes indicate respect, but not affection.
We know that Squeaky is under a lot of stress because she feels that the burden of taking care of her brother falls mostly on her, for example. She becomes the parent to him. However, she seems to appreciate and respect the fact that her mother takes care of the housework.
I don’t have much work to do around the house like some girls. My mother does that. … 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.
It seems as if the division of labor in the family is clear. Squeaky takes care of her brother, and she doesn’t have any other chores. Taking care of her brother is a full time job though. He is special, because he has mental challenges. His emotional age is lower than his physical age. He has a big imagination and does not act his age, often embarrassing himself and her, and requiring her to stand up for him, which she does.
Squeaky’s mother does not really understand her love of running. We can see this in that she does not seem to understand the drills that Squeaky does that make her look silly.
I’ll high-prance down 34th Street like a rodeo pony to keep my knees strong even if it does get my mother uptight so that she walks ahead like she’s not with me, don’t know me, is all by herself on a shopping trip, and I am somebody else’s crazy child.
It seems that appearances matter to Squeaky’s mother, and she does not want to be seen with children who act funny. In that case, Raymond must embarrass her too. This might be why she has passed the responsibility for him off on Squeaky. He is the one, after all, who pretends he has a mule team with him.
Squeaky’s mother would prefer she acted she participated in the more tradition feminine activities, rather than the race.
The biggest thing on the program is the May Pole dancing, which I can do without, thank you, even if my mother thinks it’s a shame I don’t take part and act like a girl for a change.
Again, this shows that her mother does not really understand her and is not getting to know her. She doesn’t realize how important the race is to her. She just wants her to be like all of the other girls. She does not want to give her parents opportunities to “dress up and clap.”
I am not a strawberry. I do not dance on my toes. I run. That is what I am all about.
She is about the race. She knows who she is. Her parents should appreciate that too.
Squeaky does win the race, and she is proud of herself when she does so. She can forget about piano lessons and pleasing her parents. She decides to be happy with who she is. She is also happy because she noticed that Raymond kept up with her. She realizes that she can coach him too. It is a nice discovery. It gives her someone she has something in common with, and finally someone who understands her.
Part of growing up is figuring out where you fit in to the grand scheme of things. Squeaky had a passion, but did not really fit in to her family or her neighborhood. In this story, she learns that she can do both. She finds a connection with Raymond and with Gretchen, through the love of one thing they all share.