How is Doodle's death foreshadowed in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you read the story carefully, from the beginning it is clear that Doodle is not going to have a long life. Note how, at his birth, everyone assumed that he would not live for long. The father in the story clearly feels this so strongly that he has a coffin made for Doodle, clearly foreshadowing the early death that he will have. Likewise their act of naming Doodle with his "proper" name hints at the early death he will suffer:

They named him William Armstrong, which was like tying a big tail on a small kite. Such a name sounds good only on a tombstone.

In spite of these unpromising initial days, Doodle manages to exert himself with his customary determination and manages to learn how to walk and begins a rigorous training programme with his brother. However, towards the end of the story, the appearance of the scarlet ibis clearly foreshadows his approaching death. Both share similarities in the way that they are described, and, upon witnessing its death, Doodle shows a morbid fascination with the scarlet ibis, insisting on burying it by himself, even forsaking his favourite dessert to do this.

At the end of the novel, this comparison is made explicit by the narrator, who, weeping and screaming, shelters his "fallen scarlet ibis" from the rain.

Thus the death of Doodle is foreshadowed in a number of different ways throughout the story, both at the beginning of his life and towards the end with the link that is established between Doodle and the scarlet ibis.

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The Scarlet Ibis

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