“Raymond’s Run” Characters
The main characters in “Raymond’s Run” are Squeaky Parker, Raymond Parker, and Gretchen Lewis.
- Squeaky Parker, whose real name is Hazel, is the story’s narrator and protagonist. She is a confident young girl who excels at running and is protective of her brother, Raymond.
- Raymond Parker is Squeaky’s older brother, who has an intellectual disability. Hazel recognizes his potential as an athlete when he runs a race alongside her.
- Gretchen Lewis is new to Hazel’s neighborhood. While Hazel at first considers Gretchen a rival, the two share a genuine smile after they race each other.
Last Updated on September 6, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 763
Squeaky’s real name is Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker, but she is called Squeaky because of her small squeaky voice. She is a thin little girl from a poor family in Harlem and has had to grow up quickly and assume a tough, confident demeanor in order to survive and protect her reputation. Despite this, she has a more reflective and even poetic side to her personality, which she never allows anyone to see. Squeaky is extremely competitive in various fields and has “a roomful of ribbons and medals and awards,” but she is particularly proud of her ability as a runner. She appears to have few friends, and her relationships with the other girls at her school are antagonistic. She is protective in her attitude toward her brother, Raymond, but shows no affection for him until the end of the story.
In spite of the story’s title, the reader does not learn much about Raymond. He is Squeaky’s elder brother and is larger than she is, but she has to look after him, as he is, in her words, “not quite right.” The nature of Raymond’s disability is never specified. Squeaky mentions that he has a large head, and he spends a lot of time in a make-believe world of his own, as Squeaky herself used to do. Raymond appears to be very fond of Squeaky and likes to imitate her, which is why he runs beside her in the race.
George is Squeaky’s other brother and is seldom mentioned. He makes money running errands and selling Christmas cards, and had to look after Raymond before Squeaky took over. Squeaky implies that George was not as zealous in defending Raymond as she is, and he does not seem to be very close to either of his siblings. George is also irritated by Raymond’s tendency to mimic Squeaky by performing breathing exercises at the dinner table.
Squeaky’s father is only mentioned briefly, but there is a great secret, which only he and Squeaky know: he is a much faster runner even than his daughter and can beat her in a race to Amsterdam Avenue “with me having a two-fire-hydrant head-start and him running with his hands in his pockets and whistling.”
Cynthia is a girl who goes to Squeaky’s school. Her principal attribute, according to Squeaky, is an irritating pretense of never having done any work, practiced the piano, or studied for tests. In particular, Cynthia always wins the spelling bee, but pretends that this was merely a matter of luck. However, Squeaky knows that Cynthia practices her piano scales early in the morning, and merely wants to seem as though she has too much natural talent to require any effort.
Gretchen is a girl who has recently moved to Squeaky’s school and has apparently been boasting that she will win the fifty-yard dash. The reader sees Gretchen through the eyes of Squeaky, who initially considers her an enemy and a threat. However, Gretchen actually does very little and even remains completely silent when she meets Squeaky and Raymond on Broadway. Squeaky interprets “this ventriloquist-dummy routine” as menacing and her smile as masking hostility. However, when the two girls are reconciled at the end of the story, it is easy to believe they will become friends, since Gretchen has never actually done anything to harm or insult Squeaky.
Mary Louise Williams
Mary Louise is a former friend of Squeaky’s, who now follows Gretchen around. When she moved from Baltimore to Harlem, Mary Louise was bullied, and Squeaky stood up...
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for her. However, when Gretchen joined the school, Mary Louise soon transferred her allegiance, meaning that Squeaky considers her treacherous and ungrateful. Mary Louise provokes Squeaky when they meet and maliciously asks Raymond what grade he is in (presumably because she knows he has been held back).
Rosie is a friend and “sidekick” of Gretchen. She is “fat” and “stupid,” and likes to jeer at Raymond, though Squeaky says that there is not much difference between the two of them in terms of mental ability.
Mr. Pearson is in charge of the race. He is tall and thin, and used to be called “Jack and the Beanstalk” by the children. Squeaky regards his manner as condescending and insists that he call her by her full name. He shows little understanding of the children, suggesting that Squeaky might allow Gretchen, the new girl, to win—an idea which Squeaky finds appalling.