Raymond’s Run Themes

The main themes in “Raymond’s Run” are identity and growth and development.

  • Identity: Hazel confidently asserts her identity as an athlete, which she maintains by practicing running whenever she can. Her identity, like her skill as a runner, is something she must work to establish for herself.
  • Growth and development: Hazel grows and develops as a character by recognizing Raymond’s potential as a runner, deciding to coach him, and expressing her newfound respect for her rival, Gretchen.

Themes

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Last Updated on April 18, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 589

Identity

From the beginning, Hazel strongly voices her identity as an athlete—“Miss Quicksilver herself”—and establishes her outspoken assertiveness: “no one can beat me and that’s all there is to it.” At the same time, the story shows that Hazel’s identity has been and continues to be hard won. To become...

(The entire section contains 589 words.)

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Identity

From the beginning, Hazel strongly voices her identity as an athlete—“Miss Quicksilver herself”—and establishes her outspoken assertiveness: “no one can beat me and that’s all there is to it.” At the same time, the story shows that Hazel’s identity has been and continues to be hard won. To become a good runner, she has had to persevere with her practicing, sometimes carving time for herself out of the hours she spends looking after her brother, Raymond, who has an intellectual disability. Caring for her brother is no easy task, either, and in some ways sets her apart from others. Her confrontation with Gretchen’s “sidekicks” demonstrates her loyalty to her brother and her readiness to challenge those who would tease or belittle him. Although she scorns girls who dress up in white organdy for the May Pole dancing, it is also true that Hazel “can’t afford to buy shoes and a new dress you wear only once in a lifetime.”

Nevertheless, Hazel’s belief in herself and her refusal to accept less than the respect she deserves is reflected throughout the story: in her willingness to strive to become an athlete despite the risk of failure or ridicule—“I’m serious about my running and I don’t care who knows it”; in her refusal to let anyone “get smart” with Raymond; in her insistence that Mr. Pearson address her by her full name instead of the nickname “Squeaky”; and, ultimately, in her success. The story suggests that a self-respecting identity, like the ability to run, involves persistence and dedication.

Growth and Development

While the story dramatizes the importance of identity, it also reflects on a particular moment of growth and change for both Hazel and Raymond. As the title suggests, not only Hazel’s but Raymond’s run has implications for both characters. The title points not only to Raymond’s own potential as an athlete, but also to Hazel’s intuitive recognition of his possibilities, a recognition that redefines her. Up until that moment, which occurs, interestingly, while Hazel is in the process of fulfilling a goal, Hazel has led a somewhat lonely existence, despite her vivacious style and tone. Her closeness to her family is evident, both in her father’s support for her running and in her mention of her mother, brother, and grandfather.

Nevertheless, Raymond has been a burden as well as a companion, and a girl like Gretchen, with whom she shares a passion for running, is a rival rather than a friend. The distance Hazel feels between them is marked by their inability to smile sincerely at each other. According to Hazel, girls “never really smile at each other because they don’t know how . . . and there’s probably no one to teach us how.” When Hazel, in that meditative state that running induces in her, looks over and sees Raymond running parallel to her, she is suddenly able to see him afresh, not just copying or following her, but “running in his very own style.” Through him, her difficult and somewhat lonely struggle to define herself suddenly widens to include a connection that empowers them both. The realization of Raymond’s potential, something that has always been there, enriches Hazel’s sense of her own possibilities. What Raymond has taught her is marked by her new response to Gretchen: “And I look over at Gretchen. . . . And I smile. Cause she’s good, no doubt about it. Maybe she’d like to help me coach Raymond.”

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