The Scarlet Ibis Essay

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James Hurst explore in his short story, Scarlet Ibis, the relationship between two brothers, the narrator and Doodle. The Brother narrates the sequences that occurs from birth to death of Doodle whom he shares most of their childhood time together. He is only six when Doodle is born, and already thinks how their future would be like amidst the physical and mental challenges that have presented themselves in the newborn. However, a tragic end is witnessed in the story when Doodle dies at a young age, only seven years. Through the story, the characters of Brother are revealed. He is seen as an ambitious person, cruel, and embarrassed about the unfavorable situations presenting themselves before him.
For most part of the story, Brother fantasizes how much far he wants to go in future; he imagines having a brother whom he will play with and be involved in his leisure activities. Immediately Doodle is born, he begins to describe the type of brother he wants, “I thought myself pretty smart at many things, like holding my breath, running, jumping, or climbing the vines in Old Woman Swamp… someone to box with, and someone to perch with in the top fork of the great pine behind the barn… I wanted a brother” (Hurst 48). He needed Doodle to accompany him in his adventure, and because of this, Brother ensured that he taught him how to walk even though it was against their parents’ and doctor’s wish. He also acknowledged that even though it was pretty hopeless to make Doodle walk, he never gave up till he achieved his ambition of helping his brother overcome the physical impairment.
Readers also notice the cruel nature of Brother through the way he treats Doodle in the story. He decides to take Doodle to the barn loft where his supposed “casket” had been stored. Brother became so insensitive and told Doodle that the family thought he would die early, and that is why the coffin was his. He went ahead to force him to touch the casket. Even though Doodle is afraid and refused, but Brother blackmailed him to do so. He narrates, “Doodle was frightened of being left. “Don’t leave me, Brother,” he cried, and leaned toward the coffin. His hand, trembling, reached out, and when he touched the casket, he screamed” (Hurst 49). Brother made the innocent Doodle to touch his coffin without caring about his feelings; this is a very cruel act.
Brother’s cruelty is also evident when he tries to run away from Doodle to make him move faster beyond his capability. While it is raining, Brother forces him to run as fast as he can so that he could be perfect since the schools are yet to open, “I heard Doodle, who had fallen behind, cry out, “Brother, Brother, don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!” The knowledge that Doodle’s and my plans had come to naught was bitter, and that streak of cruelty within me awakened. I ran as fast as I could, leaving him far behind with a wall of rain dividing us” (Hurst 52). With the bad weather, Brother does not mind whether Doodle could be hurt or even struck by lightning; instead he kept moving forward. This act of cruelty made Doodle to fall and finally die. Brother also confesses to the reader that he has a cruel nature, “There is within me 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” (Hurst 49). This confirms his cruel behavior towards his little brother.
The narrator’s effort was also as a result of his embarrassed and pride nature. He puts a lot of effort in transforming Doodle to avoid the shame he would feel when people realized he had a disabled brother; he, thus struggles to meet the goal he has set for Doodle to walk, swim, and run. Brother narrates, “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” (Hurst 49). This statement means that his dedication is not out of love, but to satisfy his ego. When Doodle manages to walk and reveals his capability to their parents, Brother shed tears. Even though the parents misunderstood his reason for crying, he stated that it was because of the pride he felt, “They did not know that I did it for myself; that pride, whose slave I was, spoke to me louder than all their voices; and that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother” (Hurst 50). Here again he reaffirms that he made Doodle walk because he was ashamed of a crippled brother; this proves his embarrassed nature.
Doodle’s brother is seen as a strongly embarrassed, ambitious, and overly cruel individual. He felt embarrassed because of his brother’s inability to move and talk like others. Since he wanted Doodle to be like him, he expressed cruel behaviors like leaving him alone and forcing him to touch his “coffin”. James Hurst makes his character portray these traits in order to illustrate the relevance of true love and patience among family members. Brother realized late how much he truly felt towards Doodle when he saw him lying on the ground helpless. If only he could reverse time, he could have protected him.

Work Cited
Hurst, James. “The scarlet ibis.” Atlantic Monthly (1960): 48-53.

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