Explain the point of view in "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst.

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Brother paints Doodle red in "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst.  The story's narrator is Doodle's older brother that he named simply "Brother."

Brother tells the story as a nostalgic recollection of the events surrounding Doodle's life.  Brother, much older, finds it easier to look back and remember the events and his reactions with a mature evaluation. 

The adult observations enable the reader to understand Brother and the treatment of his little brother. Acknowledging that many of the things he did with regard to Doodle were wrong and cruel reflects well for the adult Brother who accepts the responsibilty for his actions.

...a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love. I was mean to Doodle. One time I showed him his casket, telling him how we all believed he would die. When I made him touch the casket, he screamed.

Everything in the story is seen through Brother's eyes.  The brief encounters with other members of the family enter the story only to facilitate or explain something surrounding Doodle's life.  No matter how unwholesome the experience was, Brother does not hold back the details.

Despite the difficulty that the mature Brother must have experienced as he looked back at himself, he pushes through his emotions and explains what happened from his point of view.  When the cruel streak hits Brother again and he leaves Doodle out in the storm,  the adult brother comments that he was bitter because of the failure of the plan to have Doodle ready for school. 

Finally, when Brother finds Doodle under the poisonous nightshade bush he able to surrender to the devastation of the death of his brother. Comparing his brother to the death of a beautful red bird, Brother realizes that Doodle was his "fallen scarlet ibis."


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