What is the main conflict in "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara?

The main conflict of “Raymond’s Run” is between Hazel, the narrator, and her society. Hazel’s society, as represented by other girls, Mr. Pearson, and her mother, would wish for her to be more feminine. However, Hazel finds the things they want her to do to be rather meaningless and silly. She doesn’t want to dance around a May pole or take turns winning; she wants to work hard and something and achieve it.

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The primary conflict in "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara, is an internal one. The protagonist, Squeaky, is trying to figure out who she is. While she acts and talks quite confidently, she constantly feels as if she must prove herself to the world. 

Squeaky narrates this story, and she describes herself this way:

There is no track meet that I don’t win the first-place medal. I used to win the twenty-yard dash when I was a little kid in kindergarten. Nowadays, it’s the fifty-yard dash. And tomorrow I’m subject to run the quarter-meter relay all by myself and come in first, second, and third. The big kids call me Mercury cause I’m the swiftest thing in the neighborhood. Everybody knows that....

Later she calls herself "Miss Quicksilver," confident that she will once again win this upcoming race. She talks with and about her greatest rival, Gretchen, but Squeaky never allows doubt to creep into her conversation. If anything, she is cocky and prideful about what she expects to happen.

While all of this may be true, Squeaky also feels the need to prove herself. She works on her running constantly, and she is not afraid to let anyone see that she is doing it. She has to to work very hard to be what she claims to be, and that is a kind of inner conflict. Even her name in this story is an indication of that. While she embraces the name Squeaky most of the time, when she gets ready to run the race, she insists that Mr. Pearson write her name down as Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, indicating a rather conflicted view of herself.

It is also true that Squeaky is in conflict with other people, primarily the other girls in her class who try to hide the fact that they have to work to get better at the things they excel at and those who foolishly allow themselves to be dressed up and worry too much about their appearances and what others think of them. This is a conflict, but this conflict is not resolved by the end of the story.

It is also true that Squeaky has a bit of a conflict with Gretchen because she is the next-fastest runner; however, Squeaky is mostly dismissive of her throughout most of the story.

The conflict which does seem to have some resolution is the one within Squeaky--I mean Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker. When she sees her mentally challenged brother running next to her during the race, she comes to the realization that 

if I’ve lost this race, or if me and Gretchen tied, or even if I’ve won, I can always retire as a runner and begin a whole new career as a coach with Raymond as my champion.

She discovers that she does not have to win a race to be successful, a kind of resolution to her internal conflict. Of course, she suggests she could become an expert speller or piano...

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player if she did not keep working on her running, but she has at least realized that life without this particular expression of herself is possible. She has grown and learned something more about herself.

In truth, this is not a always terrible internal conflict for a young person who wants to become something in life, this tension between knowing who one is and needing to prove oneself to the world. In any case, we have little doubt that Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker will be successful at whatever she chooses to do in her life.

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What is the main conflict of "Raymond's Run"?

The main conflict of “Raymond’s Run” is the conflict between Raymond’s sister, the story’s narrator, and society. This relatively young girl, who is called Squeaky but whose name is Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, has the responsibility of taking care of her older brother, Raymond, who appears to have some kind of developmental disability. She says that he “needs looking after cause he’s not quite right.” He is very childlike, and Hazel describes him as having an especially large head, something that many people who make fun of him for.

Hazel defends Raymond against those people who would be mean to him, steal his allowance, or otherwise bully him. She claims that she will just “knock you down and take [her] chances even if [she is] a little girl with skinny arms and a squeaky voice.” Hazel is also pitted against other girls like Cynthia Procter, a schoolmate who seems to compete with her by showing off every chance she gets. Hazel even describes the way her own mother will pretend not to be with her as they walk down the street, embarrassed as she is by Hazel’s attempts to strengthen her knees and lungs so that she can be a faster, better runner. Hazel’s mom wishes she would be more feminine and participate in the maypole dancing rather than the May Day races, hoping her daughter would “act like a girl for a change.” Even Mr. Pearson, who manages the race, tries to encourage Hazel to lose the race on purpose to give Gretchen, another runner, a chance to win for once.

In short, Hazel is opposed by just about everyone in her society, often for her not being girlish or feminine enough. She recognizes that there is something wrong with the way society teaches girls to compete with one another or to act toward each other, saying, “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, because grown-up girls don’t know either.” She doesn’t want to be a “strawberry” in a play or dance around a May pole in a frilly dress but, rather, to do something that feels meaningful to her (like running fast or caring for her brother) “something honest and worthy of respect . . . like being people.” For this reason, the main conflict is arguably in the story is between Hazel and her society.

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What is the conflict in "Raymond's Run"?

The conflict in "Raymond's Run" is entirely internal and centers around Hazel "Squeaky" Parker's change of heart as she realizes that she has been selfish and needs to focus more on helping her brother. The conflict is between the way Squeaky perceives herself—as a winner who has had nothing handed to her and is "forced" to take care of her little brother—and the person that she eventually becomes who is far more concerned with her brother's well-being and success and, for the first time in her life, doesn't care whether she won the race or not. The change occurs when Squeaky sees Raymond running on the other side of the fence, and it is obvious that he is attempting to run like her. She becomes less focused on building herself up and more concerned with passing what she has on to her brother.

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What is the climax of the story "Raymond's Run"?

The climax of a story is the moment of the most tension between the protagonist and the antagonist, and the antagonist in the story is Squeaky's society. It is this society that tells her that she should be more "feminine," with her mother wishing she'd wear a frilly white dress and dance around the maypole rather than run in the May Day race; with Mr. Pearson asking her to purposely lose the race and give another girl a chance to win; and with the expectation that she play the role of a "fairy or a flower" rather than be herself. It is also a society from whom she must defend her disabled brother, Raymond.

After her race, Squeaky knows that she has "won again and everybody on 151st Street can walk tall for another year." However, there is some contention among the men who are supposed to announce the winner. Mr. Pearson, who'd previously asked Squeaky to lose the race to give another girl an opportunity to win, now seems to be arguing about who has won with the other men on the microphone. All the voices are "mixed up," and Squeaky and the other girl in contention are now "wondering just who did win," though Squeaky had seemed so sure before.

This moment, when Squeaky waits to hear if she's going to be declared the race's winner by Mr. Pearson (a representative of the society that antagonizes her), is the story's climax.

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What is the main conflict in the story, "Raymond's Run"?

Hazel is the protagonist of this story and the conflict that drives the story is Hazel's conflict vs. herself.  She is confident and self-assured, but at the same time, she has a strong need to prove herself.  She has been teased and alienated by many of her schoolmates, and she constantly needs to show how strong she is.  However, when she comes face to face with Gretchen, Hazel starts to change.  She respects Gretchen, starting to see in her some of the same strengeth she has in herself.  Then, when running the race, Hazel notices Raymond, her mentally disabled younger brother, cheering her on and climbing the face.  She starts to see strength in him, too.  Suddenly, it does not matter so much to Hazel is she wins.  She even fantasies about leaving running behind and becoming Raymond's coach.  The result of the conflict is that Hazel is able to better appreciate people around her and to be comfortable with her own strength, not needing to "show off."

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What is the main conflict in the story, "Raymond's Run"?

I would say that a conflict central to the story is Hazel's (Squeaky) internal conflict of identity.  She thinks of herself as a strong runner.  It's how she identifies herself.  She is so adamant about this identity that she limits areas of potential social growth.  For example, she only attends the May Day celebration to run the race.  She won't even consider doing the maypole dancing. The running identity is a conflict because it consumes her.  She puts a lot of pressure on herself to continually maintain her reputation as a good runner.   That pressure brings up another conflict.  Anybody who might challenge her dominance is seen as an enemy.  Someone to be beaten.  That's the case with Gretchen.  Hazel never even considers that Gretchen might be a friend and running partner.  That kind of attitude will lead to a lonely life, so it's good to see that by the end of the story, Hazel's attitude has really begun to change. 

"if I’ve lost this race, or if me and Gretchen tied, or even if I’ve won, I can always retire as a runner and begin a whole new career as a coach with Raymond as my champion."

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