Historical Context

The Black Power Movement
When ‘‘Raymond’s Run’’ was published in 1971, the Black Power Movement was having a...

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Style and Technique

Bambara uses a first-person narrator to show the neighborhood through the eyes of a child. Use of the present tense creates a sense of immediacy. Bambara’s choice of words, sentence structure, and manner of expression are all simple. Of the thirteen sentences that make up the first two paragraphs, six begin with “and” and three begin with “but.” The result is a colloquial style appropriate for the young narrator. The young characters speak in the language of the playground with all its vitality and humor. The children banter and exchange insults, referring to other children as “Fatso,” “her freckle-face self,” or “Mary Louise Williams of Raggedy Town, Baltimore,” and call Mr. Pearson “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Bambara paints her characters with a few deft strokes. Squeaky’s father is described as a “thirty-five-year-old man stuffing himself into a PAL pair of shorts” to race his daughter down Amsterdam Avenue. He gives her a “two-hydrant head start” and runs “with his hands in his pockets and whistling.” Cynthia clutches “the lace on her blouse like it was a narrow escape.” Mr. Pearson, with his clipboard, cards, and whistles, is both a symbol of authority and an object of ridicule. Bambara speaks of the “high standards our community has regarding verbal performance.” Surely, the language of “Raymond’s Run” meets those standards.


Since the reader sees the story through Hazel's eyes, there are few descriptive passages of setting. However, the story does contrast an...

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Literary Style

The most prominent stylistic aspect of ‘‘Raymond’s Run’’ is the narrator’s voice. Hazel Parker, narrating...

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Literary Qualities

The most prominent stylistic aspect of "Raymond's Run" is the narrator's voice. Hazel Parker, narrating in the first person, recounts her...

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Social Sensitivity

When "Raymond's Run" was published in 1971, the Black Power Movement was having a significant impact among African-American artists and...

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Bambara, Toni Cade. ‘‘Salvation is the Issue,’’ in Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Alwes, Derek. “The Burden of Liberty: Choice in Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters.” African American Review 30, no. 3 (Fall, 1996): 353-365.

Bone, Martyn. “Capitalist Abstraction and the Body Politics of Place in Toni Cade Bambara’s Those Bones Are Not My Child.” Journal of American Studies 37, no. 2 (August, 2003): 229-246.

Butler-Evans, Elliott. Race, Gender, and Desire: Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989.

Collins, Janelle. “Generating Power: Fission, Fusion, and Post Modern Politics in Bambara’s The Salt Eaters.MELUS 21, no. 2 (Summer, 1996): 35-47.

Heller, Janet Ruth. “Toni Cade Bambara’s Use of African American Vernacular English in ’The Lesson.’” Style 37, no. 3 (Fall, 2003): 279-293.

Kelley, Margot A. “’Damballah Is the First Law of Thermodynamics’: Modes of Access to Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters.” African American Review 27, no. 3 (Fall, 1993): 479-493.

Muther, Elizabeth. “Bambara’s Feisty Girls: Resistance Narratives in Gorilla, My Love.” African American Review 36, no. 3 (Fall, 2002): 447-459.

Compare and Contrast

1970s: With the backdrop of the sexual revolution as well as the feminist, civil rights, and Black Power movements, African-American...

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Topics for Discussion

1. Discuss how Hazel's upbeat, idiomatic narration—or narration rich in dialect—contributes to the theme of achieving selfhood in...

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. In an interview, Bambara once said that "An awful lot of my stories . . . were written, I suspect, with performance in mind." With a group...

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Topics for Further Study

In an interview, Bambara has said that ‘‘An awful lot of my stories . . . were written, I suspect, with performance in mind.’’ With a...

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Related Titles / Adaptations

Bambara's short story "Raymond's Run" has been adapted as a film for the American Short Story series of the Public Broadcasting System...

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Media Adaptations

‘‘Raymond’s Run’’ was adapted as a film for the American Short Story Series of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in 1985.

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What Do I Read Next?

Gorilla, My Love (1972), Toni Cade Bambara’s first collection of short stories, contains ‘‘Raymond’s Run’’ and places the...

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For Further Reference

Doerksen, Teri Ann. "Toni Cade Bambara." In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 218: American Short-Story Writers Since World...

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