How does the author James Hurst characterize Doodle's brother in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brother is characterized as a typical boy who really wanted a normal brother to play with, instead, he gets Doodle, a name he gives his handicapped brother, because he can only crawl backwards.

Brother is cast in a harsh light, considering that he taunts Doodle, showing him the coffin that their father has made ready, since Doodle is not expected to live very long. 

But Brother also has a very positive impact on Doodle.  Even though his brother is handicapped, he pushes him to achieve, he demands that Doodle walk.  In fact, Brother enriches Doodle's life in ways that make the little boy look at him with worshipping eyes full of love.

Sadly, at the end of this story, Brother almost acts like any other kid, running away and leaving his little brother behind.  It is not that hard to understand his reaction, he was scared.  The reader expects Brother to always understand, almost like an adult, that Doodle needs to be cared for, he has special needs.

Brother acts like a kid at the end of the story, not realizing what the grave consequences will be.

"Brother pushes Doodle to do more and more strenuous activities until one day, he breaks into a run, leaving Doodle trailing. Doodle overstrains himself trying to keep up and dies of a heart attack. Brother weeps over his fallen brother and recognizes the symbolic link between Doodle and the beautiful and rare scarlet ibis that had fallen dead from a tree in the family garden earlier that day."

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Ibis

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