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What is the setting of "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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capistran3 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 2, 2009 at 9:43 PM via web

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What is the setting of "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted November 2, 2009 at 10:15 PM (Answer #1)

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"The Scarlet Ibis," by James Hurst, was first published in the July 1960 issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine. The story focuses on the troubled relationship between two young boys: the narrator and his mentally and physically disabled brother, Doodle. In the course of the story, Doodle becomes symbolically identified with a rare and beautiful scarlet ibis which, finding itself in a hostile environment, dies.

"The Scarlet Ibis" opens with the narrator, Brother, reminiscing about a remarkable event that took place when he was a young boy at his family home at the end of the summer of 1918. The events of the story take place between 1911-1918 on a cotton farm in North Carolina.

Dix Hill in "had anyone stopped to listen to us, we would have been sent to Dix Hill," is a reference to the famous Dorothea Dix Hospital which was a psychiatric hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:06 PM (Answer #1)

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The location of the setting of "The Scarlet Ibis" is never specified, but author James Hurst made his home in North Carolina and many of his other stories were set in the state, so it is safe to assume that Doodle's family lived there as well. Places like Horsehead Landing and Old Woman Swamp would fit perfectly in the lowland areas of coastal North Carolina, and there is also the mention of "the sound of the sea" and tidal waters. When the exotic bird appears at Doodle's home, his father rushes for the "bird book," and they determine it is a scarlet ibis:

"It lives in the tropics--South America to Florida. A storm must have brought it here."

The bird has traveled far out of its habitat, and North Carolina would be a likely destination for the lost ibis.

As for the time period, the main part of the story takes place in the summer and early autumn of 1918. Brother does tell his tale in retrospect, so from beginning to end, the short story may encompass several decades.

Sources:

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secretmatrix | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted July 6, 2012 at 10:20 PM (Answer #2)

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1911-1918, on a cotton farm in North Carolina

doodle dies right before his seventh birthday in 1918

Dix Hill is a hospital in North Carolina

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bunnyrabbit | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 12, 2010 at 10:10 AM (Answer #3)

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Dix Hill, New York.

it could be.. or Dix Hill, the hospital, is in North Carolina

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