What type of conflict is presented in Toni Cade Bambara's story "Raymond's Run" and how is it revealed?
The main type of conflict revealed in Toni Cade Bambara’s short story “Raymond’s Run” is inner conflict. The protagonist of the story, Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, known as Squeaky, faces and defeats conflict within herself.
Although Hazel is small in stature, she has a mighty attitude, and a need for perfection in her running. In her Harlem neighborhood, Squeaky often endures taunting from other children, and lives with her nickname, which is based on her high-pitched voice. In her group of classmates, she is not the best speller or the most musically talented, but she is the swiftest runner. She fiercely defends herself and her disabled brother, whom she cares for on a daily basis.
Squeaky deals with her inner demons as she reacts to the taunting of the other girls her age, and views the new girl, Gretchen, as an adversary to be reckoned with in the May Day Race. She does not understand how to be Gretchen’s friend. In fact, she is not a true friend to any of the girls because she sees them as frauds and competition. Hazel is devoted to practicing her craft and caring for Raymond, who is her constant companion, and whom she defends against any type of insult. Before the race, she sees her brother as someone who needs constant care, but she does not see his potential.
Only after the May Day Race, when Gretchen proves herself to be a viable competitor, does Squeaky realize that they have a common bond, and the ability to develop a meaningful friendship. In addition, she comes to see Raymond’s potential as a coachable runner. Although he was on the other side of the fence, he matches her stride for stride in the race. These two revelations help Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker come to terms with her inner conflict, and assist her in realizing that there is more to her young life than struggling with others. She and Gretchen exchange a “genuine” smile built on respect, and Squeaky thinks the two of them might even be able to coach Raymond together.