What is the setting of "Raymond's Run"?

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poetrymfa's profile pic

poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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"Raymond's Run" is set in the 1960s in Harlem and follows the story of Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker (or "Squeaky") as she attends a May Day celebration in order to compete in a track meet. 

This setting is so significant to the story because the streets of New York provide Squeaky with a place to exercise her talents; she describes how she likes to "high-prance down 34th Street like a rodeo pony to keep [her] knees strong," and to take "early morning trots around the block." She does her breathing exercises while walking down Broadway "with not a care in the world." 

Yet, while we can see that Squeaky is full of confidence and feels like she owns the city, there are also moments of startling clarity about the reality of her environment. When Squeaky describes why she won't participate in the May Pole activities, she comments with great wisdom, "a poor black girl... can't afford to buy shoes and a new dress you only wear once a lifetime cause it won't fit next year."

It is clear that Squeaky's upbringing has left her with a great deal of responsibility; she takes care of her disabled brother as well as herself and is cognizant of her family's socioeconomic and racial background. By the end of the story, she is also able to see how other people fit into that delicate ecosystem and the importance of connecting with the people who surround her. 

mercut1469's profile pic

mercut1469 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The setting of Toni Cade Bambara's short story "Raymond's Run" is Harlem, a large neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. Harlem became predominantly black in the early 1900s and was the center of black culture as well as an artistic movement known as the Harlem Renaissance which began there in the 1920s. It was originally named after the Dutch city of Haarlem. While never explicitly mentioned, the story probably takes place some time in the 1960s or early 1970s. It was first published in 1971. We know that it is set around the beginning of May because the main character, Squeaky, is running in the "May Day" races. Bambara mentions a couple of streets during the story, including Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, which run parallel to each other along the length of Harlem. One of the major landmarks of this area is City College of New York where the author attained her Master's Degree in American Studies.

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The setting of the story is in Harlem, New York during the running of the fifty-yard dash at the May Day track meet at Squeaky's school.