The Scarlet Ibis
Literary Analysis of The Scarlet Ibis and My Brother’s Keeper
‘I’ve lived in the darkness a long time. Over the years my eyes adjusted, until the dark became my world and I could see’, Dexter Morgan. There are points in every story when someone has to adjust or change. Everyone changes and we all have an event that changes us.
In ‘The Scarlet Ibis’, the rite of passage the narrator had to confront was the transition from being a child to early adulthood. He matured considerably in the story and this is shown on page 102 through his role as a teacher to his brother, Doodle. He not only teaches Doodle to walk, but by believing in his own ‘infallibility’ on page 105, then sets out to teach Doodle a number of other skills, including running, rowing, and climbing trees. By taking the role as a teacher for Doodle, demonstrates that he is no longer an immature child. Despite being only thirteen years old, he is on the road to adulthood. Unfortunately, his opportunity to really embrace this role as a teacher is cut short by Doodle’s tragic death. However, it still provides evidence that his transition towards adult life, characterized by responsibility and maturity.
In ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ by Jay Bennett the rite of passage that Jamie and his brother, Ted, had to confront was the death of their parents. Although, they don’t handle it the same way. Ted, the older brother, gets himself in a lot of trouble after the death of this parents and relies of Jamie to solve them. But then Jamie realizes that Teds behavior was harming him and puts an end to being ‘his brother’s keeper’ on page 158, forcing Ted to grow up and take the consequences of his own acts. Another rite of passage would be that he is no longer his brother’s keeper. On page 158, Jamie accepts that he cannot take the consequences of his brothers actions anymore so that Ted is being forced to grow up and take responsibilities for his own actions.
As you can see these two short stories are similar in a way. They are both about two brothers who had to adjust. The brothers in ‘The Scarlet’ had to adjust to Doodle being handicap and in ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ they had to adjust to their parents death. In both stories someone dies. In ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ the parents died in a car crash and at the end of ‘The Scarlet Ibis’ Doodle dies.
The Symbolism of Death and Depression in The Scarlet Ibis
The mood that is being created at the beginning of the story is very dark and gloomy. Textual evidence to support my statement include the sentences: “It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born, that the ibis lit in the bleeding tree.” (Hurst 1) and ‘The last graveyard flowers were blooming and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking softly the names our dead’ (1).
Both of these sentences include the term “dead” which often creates a very depressing mood. Brother, our narrator, is six years old when Doodle is born. Brother’s threat to Doodle’s life is initially seen as a fake threat because one would not expect a child Brother’s age to have the mens rea to kill a newborn child. This threat becomes real to the reader when Brother says he changes his mind about wanting to kill Doodle after he smiles at him. The irony of this part is that Brother’s plans to kill Doodle unwillingly become come true when he leaves him at the very end of the story. I believe the narrator chose not to reveal Brother’s name because, in the beginning of the story, we see Brother threatening Doodles life. This causes the reader to think that he is an emotionless older brother. As the story progresses, the reader begins to see a change in Brother’s character and begins to feel good about him, but at the very end he makes a mistake which results in Doodle’s death, thus, creating the same hatred in the reader’s perspective towards Brother. The narrator does not want to bring any more hatred upon him and chooses to not name “Brother”. This impacts the reader’s experience very significantly because the reader begins to wonder if they would have a different perspective about Brother if they had known his name. The reader would question whether they would be more emotionally attached to brother or not. When Doodle finally walks, Brother waltzes Aunt Nicey around the room for a brief joyful moment. Look at the line. What happens to end their joyful dance? Symbolically, what’s interesting about this supposedly light-hearted moment? When they are dancing, Aunt Nicey’s heavy ankle-high shoes came down on Brother’s big toe which could have ‘crippled him for life’ (Hurst 3).
Symbolically, this is very interesting because Brother had somewhat helped cure Doodle of his inability to walk. However, now Brother has just been afflicted with an issue that he says could have crippled him, this is both symbolic and ironic. Doodle is like the Scarlet Ibis. The physical features of the two were similar, the ibis’s feathers were described as a scarlet red colour and the author describes Doodle’s body as, ‘…a tiny body which was red’ (Hurst 1). The Scarlet Ibis died due to illness. Doodle, at the end of the story, primarily dies due to his physical incapabilities (illness). Lastly, they both leave a message in the end after their deaths. The Scarlet Ibis showed Doodle what death looks like, and Doodle showed his brother all of the things he had done wrong.By connecting the bird and Doodle, the author was able to provide the reader a reason for Doodle’s death. The bird had no control over its death and neither did Doodle, they were both accidents. I believe that Doodle was beginning to fall very ill which eventually caused his death. Examples of this include: ‘ As we slipped through dog days, Doodle began to look feverish, and Mama felt his forehead, asking him if he felt ill.
At night he didn’t sleep well, and sometimes he had nightmares, crying out until I touched him and said, ‘Wake up, Doodle. Wake up” (Hurst, 4) and “Doodle said he was too tired to swim’ (Hurst,6). Brother played a very large role in Doodle’s death. Brother made Doodle run at the end of the story and because Doodle was very sick, running may have been a very difficult task for him to perform and make him even weaker than before. This line explains Brother’s feelings towards Doodle. Brother is stating that the cruelty inside of him is initially brought from love. This means that from family, or “the stream of love”, some sort of brutality is within him. He believes that by blood, or family, there is the origin of ‘destruction’ which causes him to have very harsh thoughts for Doodle. I treat my family members rudely when I’m very stressed. I put all my frustration on them and say very mean things to them or get annoyed by them. I think we treat strangers better than we treat our own loved ones because we think that our family members are supposed to love us even if we’re rude to them and with strangers we are worried about their opinion of us so we chose to treat them with more respect.
Conflict As a Main Motive Of The Scarlet Ibis By James Hurst
Usually, people’s expectations are higher than attainable, whether it be for themselves or others. James Hurst displays the same in “The Scarlet Ibis”. The narrator’s younger brother, Doodle, is born handicapped and weak. Society pampers him, but once his brother teaches him to walk, he feels the pressure to grow and achieve more. Doodle desperately strives to meet the expectations of his brother, his parents, and himself. As he struggles to achieve his goal, Doodle overworks himself to the point of death. Hurst uses the literary elements of conflict and symbolism to illustrate that harm is possible while trying to fulfill the wishes of others or yourself.
Born disabled, Doodle must work harder than the average person to meet society’s standards. In this short story, the external conflict between Doodle and his brother helps show the main theme. Harsh and unyielding, the brother threatens menacingly: “‘Then I’ll leave you here by yourself’… Doodle was frightened of being left… [Doodle’s] hand… reached out, and when he touched the casket he screamed” (Hurst). Doodle is willing to overcome his fears to please his brother. Since school is starting soon, the siblings decide to increase their efforts and teach Doodle “to run, to swim, to climb trees, and to fight” (Hurst). The brother, believing that Doodle’s disabilities embarrass and shame the two of them, forces Doodle to work until he collapses: “I made him swim until he turned blue and row until he couldn’t lift an oar. Wherever we went, I purposefully walked fast… his face turned red and his eyes became glazed. Once, he could go no further, so he collapsed on the ground and began to cry” (Hurst). To appease his brother’s selfish desires, Doodle sacrifices his health. External conflict between Doodle and his brother helps show the theme of trying to meet the expectations of others and yourself can harm oneself.
Additionally, Doodle struggles internally with his own expectations. He hopes to become more able for himself and others, but his body cannot keep up. Born “… all head, with a tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man’s” (Hurst 384) Doodle must work harder than the average person to complete even the simplest tasks, like walking. The first time he tries to walk, “he [collapses] onto the grass like a half-empty flour sack” (Hurst 388). As he grows and overworks himself, his body slowly fades away, becoming weaker. In the end, Doodle’s body simply cannot continue, and fails to function. While running home, Doodle’s brother leaves him behind. Before his brother finds him, Doodle has “…[fallen] backwards onto the earth… [and is] bleeding from the mouth and his neck… [He lies] very awkwardly… [throwing his head] far back, making his vermilion neck appear unusually long and slim” (Hurst). His body withers away and he dies from exhaustion and overexertion. When Doodle attempts to satisfy others, he sacrifices himself.
Furthermore, Hurst uses symbolism to express the theme. In “The Scarlet Ibis”, an ibis dies in front of Doodle’s family. This ibis represents Doodle; both exhausting themselves to death. The ibis “lives in the tropics– South America to Florida. A storm must have brought it here” (Hurst 10). North Carolina, a completely different climate is impossible for its exhausted body to survive in. Leaving its expectation of withstanding exhaustion unfulfilled, it dies. Like the ibis, Doodle also dies of exhaustion: “…[Doodle falls] backwards onto the earth… [and is] bleeding from the mouth and his neck” (Hurst 395). He could not become “normal” before his death, also not meeting his expectations. Using the ibis to symbolize Doodle, Hurst further shows the theme of harm is possible while trying to fulfill the wishes of others or yourself.
External conflict, internal conflict and symbolism are used powerfully in “The Scarlet Ibis” to show the theme of harm is possible while trying to meet the expectations of others or yourself. Doodle struggles externally with the expectations of his brother; he struggles internally with his own hopes. The ibis symbolizes Doodle and his failed expectations. James Hurst clearly uses the elements of external conflict, internal conflict and symbolism to express the main theme of “The Scarlet Ibis”.
Role Of Colors in Of Mice And Men And The Scarlet Ibis
“The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color.” These valuable words, once said by Hans Hofmann, are an excellent explanation as to why authors apply colors to their literature. The authors of the two classics, Of Mice and Men and The Scarlet Ibis, both use color to create a significant mood. In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, a man named George carries the responsibility of taking care of Lennie, a mentally disabled man that he travels with. Due to Lennie’s simple-mindedness, he gets himself into an irreversible situation in which George decides to kill Lennie to prevent further suffering. In James Hurst’s The Scarlet Ibis, the narrator tells the story of his brother, Doodle, who was born with a physical disability. The narrator felt embarrassed with having to take responsibility for his “abnormal” brother, and the narrator ends up leaving Doodle behind to die because of the narrator’s passion and pride. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses cool colors to promote a tranquil and calm mood, while Hurst uses a warm color scheme in The Scarlet Ibis to create a vivid and emotional mood. However, the color gold is used in both works of literature to promote perfection and strength.
Cool colors, specifically green, create a placid mood in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. In the beginning of the novel, Steinbeck describes the scenery of the area: “…the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green…on the valley side the water is lined with trees- willows fresh and green…” Steinbeck uses the introduction of the story to foreshadow the overall emotions of the text, which reflect the simplicity of life. The quote communicates a very tranquil mood, and the color green shows the natural landscape. Towards the end of the novel, Steinbeck nearly repeats the details used in the landscape described during the beginning of the story: “The deep green pool of the Salinas River was still in the late afternoon…And row on row of tiny wind waves flowed up the pool’s green surface.” In order to bring the novel full circle, Steinbeck duplicates the feel of the lush, tranquil landscape that is expressed in the beginning of the story. Overall, Of Mice and Men creates a peaceful mood by using cool colors, namely natural greens.
While Of Mice and Men creates a peaceful mood by using cool colors, The Scarlet Ibis creates a nearly opposite mood by using green’s complementary color; James Hurst applies warm colors, particularly red, to create a passionate, emotional mood. When the narrator begins to speak about his brother, Doodle’s “little mahogany coffin,” the rich red color is introduced into the story, and it begins to foreshadow the emotional, passionate climax of the story. Also, in the end of the short story, a reference of the same color is used to complete the piece. When Doodle is dying, the author describes that “he had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained a brilliant red.” Obviously, the red describes Doodle’s blood, but the color is also included to express the passion throughout the story. The use of the color creates powerful imagery and gives the story an overall emotional mood.
In Of Mice and Men, cool colors are used to represent tranquility and peace, while different tones of red are used in The Scarlet Ibis to create a sense of passion. Yet, an intermediate color is used in both stories to create a similar feeling. The color gold is used in both Of Mice and Men and The Scarlet Ibis to promote the sense of perfection and beauty. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, when the scenery is being introduced at the beginning of the novel, it’s described that “the water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool…the golden foothill slopes curve up…” The yellow and gold tones in the description demonstrate a beautiful and perfect mood. The color gold is also used in The Scarlet Ibis to create imagery and a strong feeling. When one of Doodle’s favorite lies states that “Peter wore a golden robe that glittered so brightly that when he walked through the sunflowers they turned away from the sun to face him.” Expressed through the color gold, this lie represents Doodle‘s wish to be physically able to do normal things. This is beautiful and perfect in his eyes because his disability prevents him from doing so.
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men promotes a tranquil mood by expressing the color green, while Hurst’s The Scarlet Ibis uses red to imply a passionate, emotional mood. However, both works of literature use the color gold to blend a sense of perfection and beauty into their moods. In all kinds of different types of art, colors are used to create a specific mood. In the words of Pablo Picasso, this is simply because “colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”
Breathtaking Events in The Scarlet Ibis
The short story, “Scarlet Ibis,” by James Hurst is a heart shattering story built with detail far more superior than other stories which creates a virtual representation in your mind. In the Scarlet Ibis, a child – unlike others – was born on one particular dawnbreak with birth defects and extremely cautious health conditions that resulted in the belief of a short lifespan. His brother was extremely embarrassed to have a weak and irregular brother, so he pushed his younger brother, Doodle, to learn how to walk and fit in with what he wants and to become a normal individual. However, he was pushed over the limits and it resulted in many consequences. This short story is a good story because it’s very descriptive, hurtfully emotional, and has a very grand and believable resolution. These characteristics make the story build quickly and become very successful.
Initially, the story pronounces its true dominance in its very own factor in description and symbolization. The words expressed results in a virtual reality world that cannot be compared with most short stories. “The flower garden was stained with rotting brown magnolia petals and ironweed grew rank amid the purple phlox.” The physical description of the flower garden contained not only what was there, but the location of the diverse types of plants in correspondence to the external setting of the story. In addition, even the flashbacks are described in such a professional way it seems as it were present and the reader being put in that exact period of time. “I pulled the go-cart through the saw-tooth fern, down into the green dimness where the palmetto fronds whispered by the stream.” The exaggerated view of the journey through the previous periods of time is very plentiful of exclamated objects which emphasize the quality of this short story. Furthermore, each time to setting changes or even a miniscule change to the surrounding environment – it is processed and described passionately. “The afternoon, it roared back out of the west, blew the fallen oaks around, snapping their roots and tearing them out of the Earth like a hawk at the entrails of a chicken.” The swift small change in the setting such as a time alteration is described as a roaring wind being so strong it can only be compared by a predator catching a prey swiftly.
Afterward, the story evolves over time and brings pleasant sparks to each individual. This makes the short story unimaginably emotional and cause the reader to have sympathy towards each character being put under harsh environments. While Brother left Doodle alone near his Paris green casket at where he was believably to be buried, Doodle became violently frightened at the lonliness to come and the visit of where Death was to meet him. “Doodle was frightened of being left. ‘Don’t leave me, Brother!’ he cried.” In this situation, Doodle was so scared of being alone that it symbolizes the fact that he is very dependent of his brother. It elaborates that Doodle is not fierce and is very fragile in comparison to others. Additionally, the most heartbreaking event occurs after Brother makes a very selfish choice that as a consequence results in guilt and permanent regret. “I lay there crying, sheltering my scarlet ibis from the heresy of the rain.” Brother had regret his decision to leave Doodle even though he knew he was weak and dependent of him. After all, he was only a “scarlet ibis” in need of help after his call of distress, “Don’t leave me!”
Finally, as the story progresses it and goes in advance and is approaching the resolution or denouement, it hits exact points which help end off the story after the dramatic and emotional events. “As I waited, I peered through the downpour, but no one came.” In context, after Brother left Doodle to force him to catch up, and pushing him over his limits he waited and waited for Doodle to come only for the rain to drown the roads and the entire forest. The reader can foreshadow that something bad is going to occur. In this short story, the resolution and climax is paired together that export a drop in the entire story flow, and then leave the reader paralyzed to retrace what had just occurred. This is exactly the reader feels after foreshadowing the previous text and to proceed further in this sacred short story. “He had been bleeding from his mouth, and his neck and his front of his shirt were stained a brilliant red.” This shows that Doodle had been suffering and is at a critical state after being pressured, and forcefully pushed over his weak heart’s limits. Death had drown him and Brother had lost Doodle just like the scarlet ibis loss to battle with the storm.
In conclusion, the short story, “Scarlet Ibis,” by James Hurst is a good story because it’s very descriptive, hurtfully emotional, and has a very grand and believable resolution. These characteristics make the story build quickly and become very successful. The absolute breathtaking events that occur along with the descriptive and symbolic text excite the reader in such an unusual way that no other short story can reproduce. The elastic flow of the story energizes the story in such a way that the reader cannot be mentally forced to pause the story.
The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst
James Hurst creates The Scarlet Ibis with an abundance of many literary devices, but the main device is a symbolism. Nature and the Color red are the main symbols that Hurst uses in his short story.
The Scarlet Ibis is a bird that Doodle finds lying on the ground dead beside the bleeding tree. It was not a common bird where they lived, so it must have traveled a great distance before dying. This is a symbol in many ways that illustrates Doodle. Just as a Scarlet Ibis traveling a great distance, Doodle also accomplishes a great number of things including surviving birth against all odds, and learning how to walk when the doctor said that he would never be able to. Along with this, both Doodle and the bird’s life were shorter than expected.
Throughout the story, Hurst makes references to the color red which not only symbolizes death but also foreshadows Doodle’s Death. The first encounter with this tragic color can be found in the second paragraph when Hurst describes Doodle after being born as a “tiny body which was red.” Hurst uses this symbolism to warn the reader of doodle’s upcoming death. Later, Hurst uses the Scarlet Ibis, a red bird, which dies at the feet of the bleeding tree. The last occasion in the story that Hurst uses the color red to symbolize death is at the end when Doodle dies. “He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained a brilliant red,” (page 6).
Hurst uses this last symbolic phrase to describe Doodles death but instead of illustrating the color red as terrible he described it as brilliant. He does this to relate the Scarlet Ibis’ graceful, beautiful death to Doodle’s Death. Nature is a recurring motif throughout this story. The beauty of the natural world enhances Doodle and the narrator’s lives. There are recurring descriptions of places such as the Old Woman Swamp, Horsehead Landing, and the family house itself, before and after the events of the story. Doodle is enthralled by the beauty of the wildflowers in the swamp the very first time he visits. This recurring nature motif connects Doodle to the ibis and to the natural world itself, and accentuates the beauty of his life, though it is very different from the lives of most children his age. The color red is a powerful motif throughout this text. The title itself is “The Scarlet Ibis,” and scarlet is a shade of red. The ibis perches in the bleeding tree, which reminds readers of the color red as well. When Doodle dies, his blood stains his skin and his shirt red. Aside from these obvious references, the narrator also describes Doodle’s body as red when he is a baby: “a tiny body which was red and shriveled” (Part I). In this story, the color red symbolizes death—however, it also symbolizes beauty, through the beautiful ibis, its tree, and nature. This may seem paradoxical, but it is a fitting representation of the jumble of contradictions that comprise Doodle’s life.
There is a reason why Doodle is so reluctant to reach out and touch the casket that was built for him as a baby when his brother brings him into the barn and tries to force him to. The casket is a symbol for the death that Doodle evaded, and he fears that if he physically connects with it he is inviting death back into his life. The casket represents what was supposed to happen to Doodle, but which, by some strange trick of fate, did not.
Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst
The Scarlet Ibis: Written Response
In the story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst uses symbolism to tell his story and gives it a deeper meaning. James Hurst uses the Roman Candle and the weather to emphasize and illustrate how the characters feel in the story.
The first symbol is the roman candle and it symbolizes how the characters feel frightened and it was also a foreshadowing of Doodle’s death. For example, the tree if front of them shattered “…by a bolt of lightning.” (pg. 3) This basically means that the character probably feels a sudden rust of emotions. Doodle, obviously, would feel frightened because the lightning ripped up a whole tree in front of him and he is scared of being hurt. But for Doodle’s brother, the narrator, he felt a sense of cruelty towards his brother and he suddenly thought about leaving Doodle behind, which he did. And from seeing the lightning rip the tree apart, it gives the readers a clue about how Doodle may have died later on.
The second symbol is the weather which represents how the situations situations are good or bad. To show, when they were walking home together and the “…deafening thunder haddled…” and the narrator left Doodle behind. This event and symbol correlate to how bad and good the situation was. The relationship of the brothers were breaking and they were fighting, the weather happened to go bad because it helped display the tone of the story at the moment. Or also, when the narrator successfully taught Doodle how to stand, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. The weather can display how the characters feel, like happy or sad, or it can display the tone of the story and how the author feels.
James Hurst, from using symbolism, enriches his writing and helps the readers understand the deeper meaning in his stories and gives them a chance to really emerge themself in it. In this case, these symbols help the readers get an insight of how the character may possibly feel.
“The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst
The Scarlet Ibis is a heartbreaking story by James Hurst about two brothers; one brother is physically fit (narrator), while the other is physically disabled (Doodle). The story focuses on the idea that the older brother’s greediness, arrogance, and self-consciousness led to the death of his younger brother. To help us draw and anticipate Doodle’s tragic and painful death, Hurst uses an impressive style and symbolism throughout the story.
One of the great styles Hurst used, in order to grab the reader’s attention and portray doodle’s death, was foreshadowing. From the first paragraph “The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking softly the names of our dead”, to the death of the ibis “At that moment the bird began to flutter, but the wings were uncoordinated, and amid much flapping and a spray of flying feathers, it tumbled down, bumping through the limbs of the bleeding tree and landing at our feet with a thud. Its long, graceful neck jerked twice into an S, then straightened out, and the bird was still. A white veil came over the eyes, and the long white beak unhinged. Its legs were crossed and its claw like feet was delicately curved at rest. Even death did not mar its grace, for it lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers”, foreshadows Doodle’s death.
In addition to foreshadowing, another striking style Hurst used in the story is the excessive use of various figurative languages. He used simile “Keeping a nice secret is very hard to do, like holding your breath”, metaphor “There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction, and at times I was mean to Doodle”, hyperbole “We danced together quite well until she came down on my big toe with her brogans, hurting me so badly I thought I was crippled for life”, personification “ Hope no longer hid in the dark palmetto thicket but perched like a cardinal in the lacy toothbrush tree, brilliantly visible” and imagery “When we reached Horsehead Landing, lightning was playing across half the sky and thunder roared out, hiding even the sound of the sea”.
The usage of figurative language created a clear image of everything in the story. Humor is added to the story by simile, metaphor, and hyperbole, the sense of closeness to the reader and objects action is added by personification, and the clear vision of the character or setting is added by imagery. To better illustrate the reader and portray the death of Doodle, Hurst uses symbolism. He took the scarlet ibis bird as a symbol for Doodle. They have several similarities and shared characteristics.“It lives in the tropics—South America to Florida. A storm must have brought it here” it shows how the bird is immigrant and not supposed to be here; As Doodle exactly, he is different from the other -physically disabled. Doodle also shares the same characteristics with the ibis that both of them shouldn’t be alive by now. Another characteristic shared between them is that what lead them to their tragic death was the overcome many problems and challenges they have faced in their lives.
Another common thing between them is the way they died, “He was sitting on the ground, his face buried in his arms, which were resting on his drawn-up knees.” And ”He lay very awkwardly, with his head thrown far back, making his vermilion neck appear unusually long and slim. His little legs, bent sharply at the knees, had never before seemed so fragile, so thin.” shows exactly how the narrator took the ibis as a symbol for Doodle; he gave him the same classification as he did when the ibis died, from the red face to the neck to way of sitting even the storm was the reason why both them died. To conclude, this story is very effective, great, impressive, and emotional as it uses multiple and different tools that tug the readers’ heart string. One is the style that showed us how the tragic Doodle’s death was. And symbolism, by showing how the ibis bird and Doodle shared the same characteristics.
James Hurst’s story “The Scarlet Ibis”
It is said that you never really appreciate something fully until it is gone. This is shown in James Hurst’s story, “The Scarlet Ibis”. This story takes place in the Deep South after World War II, and is told through the eyes of “Brother”, one of Hurst’s fictional characters. Brother tells the story of his invalid younger brother, Doodle. In “The Scarlet Ibis” normality comes with a price. Brother’s pride both helps and hurts Doodle. Brother is ashamed of Doodle’s weaknesses.
He always wished for a normal brother: “it was bad enough having an invalid brother, but having one who possibly was not all there was unbearable, so I began to make plans to kill him by smothering him with a pillow” [Pg. 317]. This sentence reveals that Brother didn’t try to put in time to shape Doodle into the brother he wanted. Instead, the only thing he did was to make plans to kill Doodle so that he wouldn’t have an invalid brother.
“He was a burden in many ways. The doctor had said that he mustn’t get too excited, too hot, too cold, or too tired, and that he must always be treated gently. A long list of don’ts went with him, all of which I ignored once we got out of the house. To discourage him coming with me, I’d run with him across the ends of the cotton rows and careen him around corners on two wheels. Sometimes I accidently turned him over, but he never told Mama” [Pg. 317]. We can see from this excerpt that Doodle looks up to Brother and enjoys spending time with him, however Brother resents being burdened by Doodle and attempts to flip the go-kart Doodle is being transported in so that he will not be burdened by his company when he goes on outdoor excursions. “This is within me (and with sadness I have watched it n others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction, and at times I was mean to Doodle.
One day I took him up to the barn loft and showed him his casket, telling him how we all had believed he would die. It was covered with a film of paris green, sprinkled to kill the rats and screech owls, which had built a nest inside it. Doodle studied the mahogany box for a long time, then said, “It’s not mine”, “It is”, I said. “And before I’ll help you down from the loft, you’re going to have to touch it [Pg. 318]. This proves that Brother pressurizes Doodle into doing things that Doodle would otherwise not do. An example of this is how Brother uses Doodle’s fear of the attic to force him to touch the coffin, a coffin that had been made for Doodle himself, as everyone predicted he would not live very long. Brother’s sometimes bullying behavior affected doodle both physically and emotionally.
Brother behavior toward Doodle is inconsistent however and he does many good things, too. He helps Doodle become normal and to be able to do things that people thought were impossible for Doodle to do. “When Doodle was five years old, I was embarrassed at having a brother of that age that couldn’t walk, so I set out to teach him” [Pg. 318]. This reveals that Brother has compassion for Doodle helping him become the best he can be. Instead of just hiding Doodle at home, which would have been more convenient for him to do, he takes him out in the community. “Once I had succeeded in teaching Doodle to walk, I began to believe in my own infallibility and I prepared a terrific development program for him, unknown to mama and Daddy, of course. I would teach him to run, to swim, to climb trees and to fight, he, too, now believed in my infallibility, so we set the deadline for these accomplishments less than a year away, when, it had been decided, Doodle would start school” [Pg. 320].
This teaches us that Brother wants to aid Doodle in learning and living his life to the fullest possible extent, despite not having the physical and mental abilities that we take for granted. “After we had drifted a long way, I put the oars in place and Doodle row back against the tide” [Pg. 322] Brother wants to push Doodle and make him do something, which even by normal standards, would be challenging but even more difficult for Doodle because of his disabilities. These actions show a kinder side to Brother, a side that wishes to help and nurture his brother. Brother’s actions towards doodle are conflicting. Was it better for Doodle to live a short more adventurous life, or was it better for Doodle just to stay at home and never experience life to the fullest.
Short Review Of The Scarlet Ibis
This story was about a kid who was born with disabilities where he could not walk. He was having a really sad life and he had a brother older than him. His brother was mad and selfish for his own reasons The narrator of ‘The Scarlet Ibis’ is a kid who is never been named. We only know that he lives in a country, near a old swamp that they love to go to and the ocean, and that he’s six when his little brother is born. Now, the kid brother, William Armstrong, is born with some disabilities.
They fear that his mind is very damaged just like his body they say. His family is so down on the little guy that they built a kid-sized coffin for him because they thought he was going to die, just, you know, planning ahead.Older brother has high hopes that William will fulfill his fantasies of a ball-throwing, rope-jumping, swamp-swimming, boat-rowing, sporty little brother. However, while Doodle’s body doesn’t work all that well, the kid turns out to have a very nice brain.
So, his first plan was to smother his brother with a pillow because he was so selfish. But he is not doing that anymore, he decides to keep him around. That’s what you call brotherly love! Sometimes our narrator is really sweet to Doodle, like when he encourages Doodle to keep trying until he can at some point stand on his own, like when he drags Doodle to the barn where the family has stowed the tiny coffin they had built for him. The sweet older brother won’t let Doodle leave until he touches his own coffin.
Doodle grows up under the on and off love of his brother, learns to walk, and impresses the family with a natural knack for telling stories. He’s an imaginative, sensitive child, but our lovely narrator will be happy enough with nothing less than his athletic brother. When Doodle gets the ok to attend the school for the first surprising time, his brother plans on a plan to get Doodle’s fitness up to his standards so he won’t be an embarrassment to him in the schoolyard. The narrator has his little brother trying to do all these things that he can’t even do yet like climb ropes, row boats, and swim and all these other things