In the first paragraph, does the narrator describe the season of the year in a positive or negative manner?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's take a look at some of the descriptions Hurst uses to recount the season at the beginning of the story.  His use of words and their connotations could give us a clue as to the mood he wants to project.

  • " . . . clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born."
  • The garden had "rotting brown magnolia petals and ironweeds grew rank amid the purple phlox."
  • ". . .the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle.  
  • "The last graveyard flowers were blooming and their smell drifted . . . speaking softly the names of our dead." 

All of these descriptions are dark and eerie.  Words like "dead", "rotting", "rank", "empty", "graveyard", and "names of our dead" all have negative connotations and successfully set up the mood of the story from the very beginning.  Even though the following paragraph in the story shows a more positive image of the house and farm of the present, in the first paragraph, Hurst wants us to understand the sadness and negativity of the past as the story is a flashback of Doodle's life as told by an adult Brother.  The very first paragraph foreshadows Doodle’s tragic story with its use of dark words and negative imagery.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Ibis

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