How and why do we as readers accept or doubt the narrator's perspective on the people and events in the "The Scarlet Ibis"?
Here is the quote from The Scarlet Ibis of the question:
“It seemed so hopeless from the beginning that it’s a miracle I didn’t give up. But all of us must have something
or someone to be proud of, and Doodle had become mine. I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible
thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death. Every day that summer we went to the pine beside the stream
of Old Woman Swamp, and I put him on his feet at least a hundred times each afternoon. Occasionally I too
became discouraged because it didn’t seem as if he was trying, and I would say, ‘Doodle, don’t you want to
learn to walk?’
“He’d nod his head, and I’d say, ‘Well, if you don’t keep trying, you’ll never learn.’ Then I’d paint for him a picture
of us as old men, white-haired, him with a long white beard and me still pulling him around in the go-cart. This
never failed to make him try again.”
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There is an honesty to the narration that demands the reader's acceptance of his perspective. After all, who but an honest man looking backward in his life would write such an insight as this:
I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible
thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.
For, it is an admission that his pride has wrought the death of his debilitated brother, whom he demanded be like him. This narration, set against the carnage of World War I is also lent verity by the parallel conditions of the war in which European nations attempted to make others over in their images, and in which lives were wasted because of lack of compassion for one's fellow man. In a similar manner, the brother displays a lack of consideration for his crippled brother as he feels Doodle is not trying, and he suggests that Doodle will become a burden to him later in life unless he tries to walk. This lack of compassion, of course, causes the delicate Doodle's death.
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