Who is Mr. Pearson in "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The protagonist and narrator of "Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambara is Squeaky Parker, a young girl who loves to run. More importantly, she is a really fast runner, and she makes sure everyone know it. Unlike some other girls in her class who are good at things but pretend they never have to work at their skills, Squeaky is proud to let the world see her practicing her running.

As she watches (cares for) her mentally challenged older brother Raymond, Squeaky prepares for the big end-of-the-year May Day race, confident that she will win. On the day of the race she arrives at the track, settles Raymond into a nearby swing to watch (though he actually runs the race with her), and mentally prepares for the race. Most of the other girls who are running the race spent their day in the rather ridiculous May Day activities; however, Squeaky has focused all of her concentration on the race--and on not being silly like them.

Mr Pearson is the teacher whose job it is to check in each of the runners.

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. But I’m the only one that can outrun him and get away, and I’m too grown for that silliness now. 

The reason Mr. Pearson is an important character in this novel is that he inadvertently gives Squeaky an opportunity to assert her independence and individuality in a substantive way. When he starts to write her name down as "Squeaky," she pointedly tells him her name is 

“Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker.” I correct him and tell him to write it down on his board. 

To herself she says that if she does not get to call him "Beanstalk," he does not get to call her "Squeaky."