Conflict between Love and Pride
"The Scarlet Ibis" explores the conflict between love and pride in Brother's relationship with his physically and mentally disabled brother, Doodle. Brother loves and appreciates Doodle, as can be seen in the incident when the brothers fantasize about living in Old Woman Swamp, when Brother is overwhelmed by the beauty of the images that Doodle conjures up.
Love is accepting and compassionate in its nature. But Brother's love for Doodle is challenged by two very human failings: pride, and the cruelty that results from it. Brother feels embarrassed and ashamed of Doodle's limitations and obvious differences from other people. They threaten his sense of pride. He decides to make Doodle do all the things that other people do in spite of the fact that Doodle himself sees no need to conform. Teaching Doodle to walk is Brother's first success. When Brother's family congratulates him on his success, he cries with shame, because he knows that he acted not out of love but out of pride, "whose slave [he] was." Brother's pride again triumphs over love when he continues to push Doodle to harder physical feats in spite of Doodle's obviously declining health. In the end, Doodle's heart fails under the strain, a victim of Brother's insistence. Well might Brother reflect, "I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death." In this case, the "life" aspect is the...
(The entire section is 1222 words.)
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