I would argue that the themes of this moving short story are sibling love and priorities. Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, better known as Squeaky, is committed to looking after her brother Raymond, who is described as “not quite right.” Right from the outset, we learn that Squeaky is fiercely protective of her brother. She does not allow anyone to tease Raymond “about his big head.” When she and her brother go walking around town, she ensures that he doesn’t get into any trouble and makes it clear to everyone they encounter that if anyone is thinking of messing with Raymond, they are going to have to go through her.
We learn that Squeaky is a talented runner. She is to participate in the fifty-yard dash which forms part of the May Day program, and she is determined to beat her archrival, Gretchen. At the start of the race, Squeaky notices Raymond getting into position “on the other side of the fence” as though he is going to run too. In the midst of the race, she notices Raymond running “in his very own style,” and she is so taken with the sight that she states she “almost [stopped] to watch [her] brother Raymond on his first run.” Suddenly, beating Gretchen seems less important.
Here, we see Squeaky’s priorities begin to shift from her own running career to the potential she sees in her brother. While waiting to hear whether she or Gretchen had won the race, she realizes that her talents could be put to great use if she had to retire as a runner herself and dedicate her time to training Raymond as a runner. It is her love for her brother that makes her see that while she has won many races, her brother has achieved little and has nothing “to call his own.” It is Squeaky’s love for her brother that makes her want to change her priorities and his fortunes.