Give a brief summary about the story "The Scarlet Ibis."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Scarlet Ibis" is the story of two brothers, one, the narrator, called Brother, and the younger of the two, Doodle. Doodle is born a very sickly child, whom no one expects to live, and whom Brother feels a tremendous amount of, for lack of a better word, shame.  Brother wanted someone who could run and jump and play with him; instead he got the fragile Doodle.  Determined to make him into the brother that he wants, Brother pushes him constantly past the point of physical endurance; he is often cruel to him, even making him touch the coffin that was originally built for him as a baby.  Doodle does learn a lot from Brother, but everything he learns comes at a very high and dangerous price to Doodle in the end.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Here's a link to a good brief summary on Wikipedia

Brother is the lead protagonist of the story and also the narrator. He is not given a name but is referred to by Doodle, his brother, only as "Brother." He is six years old when Doodle is born. Brother has a high opinion of his own ability to run, jump, and climb, and wants a brother with whom he can share these activities. When it becomes clear that Doodle is capable of little more than lying on a rubber sheet and crawling backwards, Brother grows ashamed of Doodle's limitations and regularly taunts him. Though Brother loves Doodle, the love is tainted with cruelty and embarrassment.

Doodle is the mentally and physically retarded younger brother of the narrator, Brother. His family initially calls him by his given name, William Armstrong, but Brother nicknames him Doodle. Doodle's real strengths lie not on the level of his physical prowess, but on a more subtle inward level, to which Brother seems blind at the time the action takes place. From the beginning of his life, Doodle defies death and refuses to recognize the coffin that Daddy builds for him as his own. He shows a sense of wonder and respect for the natural world, crying with wonder at the wild beauty of Old Woman Swamp.

The other characters are Daddy, Mama and Aunt Nicey.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial