Raymond’s Run by Toni Cade Bambara
In Raymond’s Run by Toni Cade Bambara we have the theme of respect, dedication, identity, love, acceptance, responsibility, confidence, connection, rivalry and friendship. Taken from her Gorilla, My Love collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young girl called Squeaky and after reading the story the reader realises that Bambara may be exploring the theme of dedication. Squeaky spends her time when she is not practicing her running, looking after her older brother Raymond. This may be important as it suggests that Squeaky is dedicated to not only her running but also to taking care of Raymond. She won’t let anybody take advantage of Raymond and is protective of him. Which may also be important as it is possible that Squeaky through her dedication to Raymond loves him very much. She appears to be the type of individual who will not let another person take advantage of those who are weaker or deemed to be weaker. The reader also suspects that the other children in the neighbourhood respect Squeaky not so much because she looks after Raymond but because they are afraid of Squeaky. Squeaky is feisty and does not let others take advantage of either her or Raymond. Something that many readers will find admirable.
How serious Squeaky takes her running is also noticeable by the fact that throughout the story she is practicing her breathing. She wants to win the race on May Day and if anything is exceptionally confident that she will win the race. This confidence may be important as Squeaky may have to be confident not only for herself but for Raymond too. She knows that there are cruel people in the world who would take advantage of Raymond if they could. So Squeaky has to be tougher than her years. Raymond is her responsibility and she knows the onus is on her to protect him. Where some young girls may only have to look out for themselves. This is not the case when it comes to Squeaky. Throughout the story Squeaky while she is practicing her breathing keeps an eye on Raymond. Similarly on the day of the race. Squeaky always knows where Raymond is and what he is doing. There is also a sense that there is a connection between Squeaky and Raymond that goes beyond the connection one would expect to see between sister and brother. It may also be a case that Squeaky is trying to find her own identity. Though she appears to be confident on the outside. She may not necessarily be confident on the inside. Which may suggest an internal conflict within Squeaky.
The day of the race is also interesting as the reader realises not only how important the race is to Squeaky but how serious she takes it. While most children might run for fun. Squeaky doesn’t. There is a sense that Squeaky’s pride is at stake should she not win the race. If anything Squeaky oozes confidence and the reader is left hoping that Squeaky does win the race as a loss may shatter her confidence. The fact that the race is close may also be important as Squeaky respects Gretchen for running such a good race even though neither girl knows who has won the race. The race has united both girls where previously when they met on the side of the street there was some animosity between both girls. It is as though neither girl had trusted the other. This could be important as it highlights the competitive streak not only in Squeaky but with Gretchen too. Neither girl wants to be beaten by the other or by anybody. Which is something that would suggest that both girls have an inner strength or a string desire to win.
The end of the story is interesting as Raymond takes centre stage while Squeaky is waiting for the results of the race. This could be important as Bambara might be further highlighting just how deeply in love with her brother Squeaky is. For a moment she forgets about who has won the race and focuses on something that is far more important, Raymond. Squeaky also thinks that maybe she could train Raymond how to run. This may be important as for the first time in the story Squeaky is putting aside the most important thing in her life (her running) and thinking about helping someone else to run. Perhaps she is aware that Raymond too might get as much enjoyment out of running as she does. There is also a sense that any barriers that existed between Squeaky and Gretchen have been torn down when Gretchen congratulates Squeaky for winning the race. There smile to one another appears to be honest and sincere and unlike how they might have smiled to each other previously. It is as though both young girls respect one another. If anything the reader is left sensing that any animosity or rivalry that existed between Squeaky and Gretchen will be no longer. Their smile to one another after the race may be the starting point of a friendship and an ability to accept each other for who they are. Two young girls with a love for running who have no need to be hostile towards each other.