What Are the Themes of “Raymond’s Run”?

The themes of Toni Cade Bambara’s short story, “Raymond’s Run” include feminism, African-American family life, platonic connections based on empathy, the strengths of the African-American community and the African-American tradition of struggle. It also deals with a child’s perception of the world, where one’s entire life outlook can change in response to a single event, and invites the reader to see through a child’s eyes.

Making its first appearance in Bambara’s “Tales and Stories for Black Folks” “Raymond’s Run” is the story of Squeaky, a bright and outspoken, but also responsible and caring, young girl. She works hard at school and is not ashamed of this fact. This is in stark contrast to her classmate, Cynthia, who hides her musical accomplishments as a pianist.

The theme of feminism is powerfully explored in “Raymond’s Run,” particularly through Squeaky’s refusal to wear dresses or participate in maypole dances.

The character of Raymond, Squeaky’s mentally challenged older brother, is used to develop the theme of empathy when Squeaky decides to focus on coaching him to run, rather than competing for her own victories. Throughout the story, Squeaky’s attitude to her brother is one of compassion and acceptance. At one point, whilst studying for a spelling test, she asks for Raymond to help test her, despite knowing that his help would slow her down.