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In "The Scarlet Ibis," what is the main instance of pathetic fallacy?When events in...

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soman | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 25, 2009 at 9:07 PM via web

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In "The Scarlet Ibis," what is the main instance of pathetic fallacy?

When events in nature parallel events in the story it is called pathetic fallacy.

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troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted February 25, 2009 at 9:25 PM (Answer #1)

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Pathetic Fallacy is actually a version of personification. It's giving inanimate objects human feelings, sensations and thoughts, just like people would have.  If you are asking how nature does this in the short story, that would have to be the storm that begins as the narrator pushes Doodle too far. As Doodle tries to row against the tide, he looks to the sky.

"Black clouds began to gather in the southwest, and he kept watching them, trying to pull the oars a little faster. When we reached Horsehead Landing, lightening was playing halfway across the sky, and thunder roared out, hiding even the sound of the sea. The sun disappeared and darkness descended, almost like night."

As words like "roaring," "playing" and "descended" are used and happening in nature, we see how nature is really following what the characters are doing.  Doodle is trying to keep up with his brother.  The narrator breaks free and runs away from Doodle, which pushes Doodle past his physical ability.  That is what kills him.

"The rain was coming, roaring through the pines, and then, like a bursting Roman candle, a gum tree ahead of us was shattered by a bolt of lightening. When the deafening peal of thunder had died, and in the moment before the rain arrived, I heard Doodle, who had fallen behind, cry out, 'Brother, Brother, Don't leave me! Don't leave me!'" It was the moment after that, when the violence of the storm ended that he found Doodle.

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