Why is Squeaky worried when she sees Mary Louise and her friends on the street in Toni Cade Bambara's short story Raymond's Run? Why does Squeaky get upset when Mary Louise talks to Raymond?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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At the start of Toni Cade Bambara's short story "Raymond's Run," the protagonist, Squeaky, has a very competitive, distrusting attitude. Her competitiveness and distrust is especially reflected in her references to the new girl named Gretchen. Now that Gretchen has moved to Harlem, one of Squeaky's friends, Mary Louise, hangs out with Gretchen, along with Rosie, whom Squeaky thinks is stupid. Hence, when Squeaky sees Gretchen and the two other girls out on the street while Squeaky is practicing her breathing exercises, she feels challenged by them and ready for a fight.

Gretchen is rumored to be an excellent runner, just like Squeaky, and might even win the May Day race this year.  Since Squeaky feels challenged by Gretchen, she dislikes and distrusts her. Hence, when she sees Gretchen smile at her, she instantly assumes it is a fake smile and that "girls never really smile at each other because they don't know how." In addition, Mary Louise, whom Squeaky once saved from bullying when she first moved to Harlem but has since shown disloyalty by joining sides with Gretchen, annoys Squeaky by asking Squeaky if she'll enter the race this year. Finally, Rosie shows her stupidity by sassing Squeaky, saying she won't win this year. Hence, all in all, Squeaky feels challenged by all three girls, especially Gretchen.

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