How do the conflict and setting in "The Scarlet Ibis" work together within the story?

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting in the story serves to facilitate the conflicts in the story. Doodle and his brother live in the country. Except for interacting with members of their family, they relate only to each other, and their conflicts are intensified by this. Old Woman Swamp becomes the scene in which their conflicts are developed in the narrative.

Brother loves Doodle, but he also resents him, an internal conflict. Dragging Doodle's "go-cart" into the swamp, Brother gives Doodle his first exposure to the beauty of nature. It forms a bond between them as they play in the swamp. It is also in the swamp, however, that Brother forces Doodle to stand, walk, run, row, box, and climb the rope vines around them, all because Brother is embarrassed by his little brother. Old Woman Swamp facilitates Brother's attempts to "teach" Doodle and resolve his own internal conflicts.

Doodle's conflict is also internal. He loves his brother and depends upon him. He lives in fear that his brother will leave him. Doodle struggles in the swamp to do all that his brother asks of him, even to the point of exhaustion. At the end of the story, both characters' conflicts are resolved in the swamp with Doodle's tragic death.