How does Hurst comment on society's expectation of those who are handicapped in his fictional piece, "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly the other characters had different perceptions about life's possibilities for Doodle in "The Scarlet Ibis." Doodle's father, told by the doctor that he probably would not live long, built "a little mahogany coffin" for when the time came. When Doodle survived, the rest of the family assumed he "was not all there." No one expected Doodle to ever walk, aside from his older brother, and they thought it would be perfectly acceptable for him to be pulled around in a wagon instead. The family seemed happy that Doodle had survived as long as he did, and they had no expectations of him ever performing any normal activities or living a long or substantial life. Schooling was not considered an option.

The older brother, the narrator of the story, had other plans for Doodle, however. He pushed his little brother to break out of his restrictive life, pushing him to walk and even swim. However, Big Brother's motives were mostly self-serving. He could not stand the idea of having an abnormal little brother or the derisive comments that came from his classmates. For these reasons he forced Doodle to surpass all expectations that anyone had for him--including Doodle.