Is Doodle a round or flat character in "The Scarlet ibis"?  

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In James Hurst's short story "The Scarlet Ibis" Doodle should definitely be considered a round character. A round character is one who displays many different character traits. They are three dimensional and realistic. Doodle is a sensitive, smart and imaginative young boy despite being physically handicapped. He reveals his sensitivity early in the story when he is fearful of being left behind in the loft of the barn when his brother, who was displaying his mean streak, showed Doodle the coffin which had been built for him when he was still an infant. He also shows his sensitivity to the beauty of nature when his brother first takes him to Old Woman Swamp:

His eyes were round with wonder as he gazed about him, and his little hands began to stroke the rubber grass Then he began to cry..."It's so pretty," he said. "So pretty, pretty, pretty."

Doodle has an amazing imagination for a boy his age. His brother says that Doodle made up "lies" which were "crazy" with people who "had wings and flew wherever they wanted to go." Doodle's main character is a boy named Peter who "wore a golden robe" and "had a pet peacock with a ten-foot tail." These stories seem to suggest that Doodle would like to transcend his physical limitations, but also that the boy has a bright and extraordinary imagination.

Doodle reveals an inquisitive nature and more sensitivity when he becomes interested in the scarlet ibis which flies into the family's yard. He is the first to get to it and insists on burying it. He even sings "Shall We Gather at the River" over the bird's grave. Finally, Doodle is able to recognize his limitations and that he has disappointed his brother by not living up to his brother's expectations:

He had failed and we both knew it, so we started back home, racing the storm. We never spoke (What are the words that can solder cracked pride?), but I knew he was watching me, watching for a sign of mercy.