In literature, an allusion is a reference to another work of literature, a well-known person or object, or an event. Its purpose is to create a comparison in the reader's mind. In Toni Cade Bambara's short story entitled "Raymond's Run," there are several allusions.
In the quote below, Squeaky mentions that older kids call her Mercury because she's so fast. Mercury was a Roman god. His Greek equivalent is Hermes, the wing-footed messenger, so this is an allusion to Greek and Roman mythology to compare Squeaky's speed to the fleet-footed god.
"The big kids call me Mercury cause I’m the swiftest thing in the neighborhood. Everybody knows that—except two people who know better, my father and me. He can beat me to Amsterdam Avenue with me having a two-fire-hydrant headstart and him running with his hands in his pockets and whistling."
Another allusion is in Squeaky's description of Cynthia Procter. She is talking about Cynthia's false modesty. Cynthia is the type of girl who acts like she can't do many things but then surprises people with her intelligence or skill. The allusion in this section is to famous composer Frederic Chopin's waltzes.
"And what do you know—Chopin’s waltzes just spring out of her fingertips and she’s the most surprised thing in the world. A regular prodigy."
The next allusion comes when Squeaky is narrating the arrival of Gretchen and her friends. She says this:
"So they are steady coming up Broadway and I see right away that it’s going to be one of those Dodge City scenes cause the street ain’t that big and they’re close to the buildings just as we are."
Dodge City is the site of the Dodge City War of 1883 and was also home to many famous gunfighters.
After the race, Squeaky talks about being able to hear "Old Beanstalk" as they discuss the results of the race. She is referring to Mr. Pearson, who is wearing stilts to make his way through the crowd. The allusion is to the fairy tale "Jack and the Beanstalk." She also mentions that they used to call Mr. Pearson "Jack and the Beanstalk" just to make him mad. There is another reference to a fairy tale, "Hansel and Gretel," when Squeaky recalls being cast as a strawberry in that school play.
Toni Cade Bambara makes several allusions in the short story “Raymond’s Run.” These references bring interest and imagery to the story.
The author alludes to Mercury, the Roman god of swiftness and speed, when writing about Squeaky’s running abilities. “The big kids call me Mercury cause I’m the swiftest thing in the neighborhood.”
Another allusion is to Dodge City when Gretchen and her posse are walking toward Squeaky and Raymond on Broadway. Dodge City refers to the name of a town associated with visions of a wild, reckless outpost town in the Wild West.
So they are steady coming up Broadway and I see right away that it’s going to be one of those Dodge City scenes cause the street ain’t that big and they’re close to the buildings just as we are.
Jack in the Beanstalk is also used as an allusion in the story in Squeaky’s description of Mr. Pearson, the race organizer. This allusion provides the reader with visual imagery and an idea of the persona of Mr. Pearson.
Then here comes Mr. Pearson with his clipboard and his cards and pencils and whistles and safety pins and fifty million other things he’s always dropping all over the place with his clumsy self. He sticks out in a crowd because he’s on stilts. We used to call him Jack and the Beanstalk to get him mad.