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"The Scarlet Ibis" presumably takes place in North Carolina (the home of author James Hurst, and the setting of many of his stories) just prior to 1920. The narrator, only identified as Brother, reminisces about his younger brother, Doodle, who is both mentally and physically disabled. Doodle was a tiny baby who was not expected to live long, but his inner strength and determination led him to accomplish many things that his family could never have imagined. Brother secretly teaches Doodle to walk, revealing his new talent on his sixth birthday, much to the amazement of the family. Through Brother's tutelage, Doodle manages to enjoy many of the pursuits of a normal boy--swimming, climbing trees and daydreaming about his future. During the summer of 1918, a scarlet ibis--a bird not indigenous to the Carolinas--is found roosting in a tree following a hurricane. The bird drops dead from the tree, and Doodle buries him. The bird serves as a symbol of ill fortune and death, and later that day, the brothers head out for an afternoon of rowing on Horse-Head Landing. The strenuous workout is too much for little Doodle, who falls in the mud and becomes frightened by the lightning storm that is approaching. Disappointed that Doodle has not been able to succeed at all of their physical endeavors, Brother leaves Doodle behind. Despite Doodle's cries for help, Brother ignores him; when Doodle does not return, Brother goes back for him and finds him dead, bleeding from the mouth that has stained his shirt a crimson red. Brother recognizes the similiarities between his dead brother and the dead bird--both weak, blood-stained, and out-of-place in their little world.
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