One theme of "Raymond's Run" is that disabled people should not be demeaned or underestimated.
In this delightful short story about an independent girl and her endearing brother Raymond, the reader is provided an important insight into those who are considered mentally disabled. Throughout most of the narrative Squeaky feels that she must be concerned about her brother Raymond's physical safety; for instance, when she runs down Broadway, she keeps Raymond on the inside of her and watches that he does not chase the pigeons that could disturb the older people sitting outside. She is also protective of him since he is often the target of insults and ridicule:
But now, if anybody has anything to say to Raymond, anything to say about his big head, they have to come by me.
On one run, Squeaky encounters some girls with whom she is familiar. One of them, named Rosie, who usually says derogatory things about Raymond asks him,“What grade you in now, Raymond?” But, Squeaky does not allow them to demean Raymond and retorts,
“You got anything to say to my brother, you say it to me, Mary Louise Williams of Raggedy Town, Baltimore.”
“What are you, his mother?” sasses Rosie.
“That’s right, Fatso. And the next word out of anybody and I’ll be their mother too.”
While Squeaky is very protective and does not allow anyone to insult her brother, she is not, however, beyond learning something about Raymond herself. When she participates in the track meet on May Day, and, as she races down the designated path, she notices that Raymond is running with her on the outside of the fence, running in his own unique way. Nevertheless, he is keeping up with her fairly well.
And on the other side of the fence is Raymond with his arms down to his side and the palms tucked up behind him, running in his very own style, and it’s the first time I ever saw that and I almost stop to watch my brother Raymond on his first run.
After she wins the race, Squeaky is not so concerned about her own winning; she reflects,
And I’m smiling to beat the band cause 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.
Raymond has found a new place in her heart as Squeaky realizes that she has underestimated her brother, who now has talents she has not been aware of, talents that he can develop without protection from her. She need [subjunctive mood of this verb] only stop insults and watch for his safety while he leads the charge down the track.