Gretchen P. Lewis
Gretchen is a newcomer to Hazel’s neighborhood. She has attracted Mary Louise and Rosie, once friends of Hazel, to be her friends instead. Gretchen and Hazel meet and size each other up, but do not come to open conflict, although Mary Louise tries to make fun of Raymond and is put down by Hazel instead. The smile that Gretchen and Hazel give each other on this occasion is ‘‘really not a smile’’ because ‘‘girls never really smile at each other.’’ On the day of the race, Gretchen competes well with Hazel and comes in second. Gretchen’s dedication to running and her abilities impress Hazel, and the two exchange real smiles of beginning friendship and respect.
Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker
The narrator and main character of the story, Hazel Parker describes herself as ‘‘a little girl with skinny arms,’’ whose voice had earned her the nickname ‘‘Squeaky.’’ She is known to be the fastest runner in her school. Contrasting her appearance, however, is the strength of her character. Hazel’s narration conveys to the reader a spirited self-assurance. She takes care of her mentally challenged brother, Raymond, with both pride and compassion. She is ready to use her fists or her sharp tongue if anyone has ‘‘anything to say about his big head.’’ Moreover, her striving to be an athlete conveys to the reader her determination to make something of herself. By the end of the story, Hazel is able...
(The entire section is 353 words.)