How did Doodle die in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Doodle died when his brother pushed him too far physically.

When the narrator’s little brother is born, he is very disappointed.  He wanted a brother who could run and jump and be normal, but Doodle is so weak and crippled that everyone is sure he is going to die.  He doesn’t die, but he is slow to mature.

The narrator does his best to make his brother normal.  He teaches him to walk when he is five years old, because he is embarrassed to have a brother who does not walk.  By his sixth birthday, Doodle is walking.

It seemed so hopeless from the beginning that it's a miracle I didn't give up. But all of us must have something or someone to be proud of, and Doodle had become mine. I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.

The same thing happens when Doodle’s brother decides that he wants to run and play with his brother.  He thinks that he needs to do the same thing, and teach his brother how to run.  When he pushed before, he was successful.  He feels that Doodle will be okay.

Unfortunately, Doodle’s brother pushes too hard this time.  Doodle tries to do what his brother wants.  He pushes himself as his brother pushes.  Unfortunately, he pushes so hard that his body gives out and he dies.

He didn't answer, so I placed my hand on his forehead and lifted his head. Limply, he fell backwards onto the earth. He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained a brilliant red.

Doodle’s brother does not intend to kill him, of course.  He was trying to help him in his own way.  His comment about pride was reflective of this incident.  He wanted so badly to make his brother normal that he pushed him beyond the limits.