What does Squeaky mean by "like being people" at the end of "Raymond's Run"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the story, “...like being people” means being human; and being human is about possessing human values. Squeaky and Gretchen impress us by their commendable display of human values towards the end of the story.

Until the race, they saw each other as a rival who must be defeated in the race. While Squeaky seemed anxious about retaining her reputation of the undisputed fastest runner, Gretchen wished to create history by beating Squeaky, and thus, winning everybody's praise.

However, once the result is announced and Squeaky is declared the winner and Gretchen the runner-up, we are really moved by the way they react looking at each other. No sign of malice or condescension could be found on their faces, but only respect and appreciation for one another.

After winning the race, Squeaky doesn't sneer at Gretchen or behave superciliously. She, rather, appreciates Gretchen’s effort and dedication. Besides, she believes that Gretchen would help her to coach Raymond.

“. And I smile. Cause she’s good, no doubt about it. Maybe she’d like to help me coach Raymond; she obviously is serious about running, as any fool can see.”

Similarly, Gretchen accepts her defeat quite graciously. Instead of being dispirited and vengeful, she nods appreciatively looking at Squeaky. Her nod and smile are honest expression of her admiration and respect for Squeaky. Squeaky says, 

“And she nods to congratulate me and then she smiles. And I smile. We stand there with this big smile of respect between us.”

Victory and defeat are the two aspects of any competition. They may incite strong emotions. However, Gretchen and Squeaky’s good-humored reactions exhibit exemplary sportsman spirit and their inherent goodness. Squeaky says,

"It’s about as real a smile as girls can do for each other, considering we don’t practice real smiling every day, you know, cause maybe we too busy being flowers or fairies or strawberries instead of something honest and worthy of respect . . . you know . . . like being people.

What Squeaky means is girls are usually more bothered about making themselves look pretty, attractive and beautiful like “flowers or fairies or strawberries.” Their manners and gestures may be pretentious and unreal. However, when the two of them exchanged smiles after the announcement of the winner's name, they honestly displayed their feelings of respect and admiration for one another. This was what Squeaky meant when she said “like being people.”

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What does Squeaky means when she refer to "being people" in the end of the story?

At the end of the text, The loudspeaker announces the winner, "Miss Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker," and "Miss Gretchen P. Lewis" in second place. The two girls smile at each other, but not as they had the day before. This time their smiles are real, "considering we don't practice smiling every day, you know, cause maybe we too busy being flowers or fairies .. . instead of something honest and worthy of respect . . . like being people."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on