In the James Hurst short story "The Scarlet Ibis" is the narrator responsible for Doodle's death?

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the James Hurst short story "The Scarlet Ibis" the narrator is responsible for Doodle's death. Throughout the story, the narrator tells us of the displeasure and of the embarrassment caused by his brother.  The actions that the narrator takes in teaching Doodle how to walk, even when no one thought he would ever walk, are selfishly motivated as he admits through his tears that, "I did it just for myself, that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother." Success was achieved, but at what price?

The narrator kept pushing Doodle to achieve more and more challenging goals, and Doodle's physical limitations were disregarded since the narrator "...began to believe in my [his own] infallibility."

Perhaps the key to the narrator's culpability lies in his assessment of Doodle when he says, "Now he [Doodle], too, believed in me." Clearly, throughout the story, Doodle looks up to and idolizes his brother. He will do whatever he has to in order to earn the narrator's approval. Consequently, when the boys are caught out in the storm, and the narrator begins to run home, it is not surprising that Doodle will attempt to keep up with his big brother. So Doodle does, and he runs and runs until his heart gives out.

Enotes has some great resources at the following link.


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