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 of classmates, construct a staging and performance of Hazel's role and voice for your class. Ask the audience to write about what performing the story contributes to its meaning and impact.
2. Consider "Raymond's Run" in light of social and economic conditions for African-American women at the time. Research the historical attitudes toward black women and social conditions for women such as education, position in the family, employment, availability of community services, and average family incomes in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
3. Consider the depiction of Raymond as a mentally challenged character by comparing him with other such characters in literature, including those portrayed in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Daniel Keyes's Flowers for Algernon, and Winston Groom's Forrest Gump.
4. Research attitudes toward mentally challenged people in the early 1970s and discuss how "Raymond's Run" reflects or challenges those attitudes. Have attitudes significantly changed today?
5. Read other stories in Bambara's collection Gorilla, My Love that feature Hazel Parker. Describe what these stories add to your understanding of her character?
6. Compare and contrast Bambara's portrayal of Hazel Parker with the portrayal of young black women in other works of literature such as in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye or in Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use."