The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst

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In "The Scarlet Ibis," how does Doodle imagine his perfect future?

In "The Scarlet Ibis," how does Doodle imagine his perfect future?

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Doodle is described as "the craziest" of brothers by the narrator of the story. He is physically disabled, such that he has to be pulled around in a cart by his brother; when he was an infant, it was generally assumed that he was probably going to die. As such, Doodle's expectations for himself are lesser than they might be in another child.

Doodle does not want to touch the casket that has been built for him, so we can assume that he is afraid of the idea of dying. He enjoys beautiful things. He knows, however, that he will never be like the other boys if he ever does succeed in starting school. He is able to learn to walk, and he goes along with his brother in trying to learn to swim, but Doodle cannot really conceive of what his future might be like beyond this. He and the narrator fantasize about a childlike future, where they would live in Old Woman Swamp and "pick dog's tongue for a living." Doodle imagines building a house of leaves and keeping the swamp birds as chickens, swinging through the trees on vines and hiding beneath trees when it rained. Doodle imagines that he will marry his mother and that the narrator will marry their father, which the narrator knows to be an impossibility, but the beautiful childlike future Doodle pictures is too "serene" for the narrator to say so.

At the end of the story, of course, Doodle is killed. Whatever future he might have imagined for himself, it never comes to pass.

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Doodle's mentality is that of a small child.  He thinks that he's going to grow up and marry his mother, and he'll always live with his parents and brother.  Although it sounds crazy, that's his mentality.  He's a dreamer and the symbol of innocence all in one.  Unfortunately, Doodle does not get the future he dreams of, lying in the soft grass of Old Woman Swamp, living in a house make of "whispering leaves," and collecting dog-tongue. 

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