The Scarlet Ibis Questions and Answers
by James Hurst

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In "The Scarlet Ibis," what are three examples of foreshadowing, and what mood do they set?

One example of foreshadowing in "The Scarlet Ibis" is near the end with the brothers climb into a skiff and a perilous storm rolls in over the water. The foreshadowing in this story establishes an ominous mood.

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The narrator acknowledges that he wasn't always kind to his younger brother, and once when he is forced to allow Doodle to tag along with him, he shows Doodle the casket that has already been made for him. Since this doesn't produce the intended effect, the narrator pushes harder, forcing Doodle to touch it:

He leaned toward the coffin. His hand, trembling, reached out, and when he touched the casket, he screamed.

Doodle is terrified of his casket, and it takes a long time to calm him down afterward. This foreshadows his eventual death, particularly when taking into account his fragile health.

On the day the scarlet ibis dies, their father predicts that a storm is headed their way. Storms often symbolize trouble on the horizon, which is certainly true on this day:

After a long silence, Daddy spoke. "It's so calm, I wouldn't be surprised if we had a storm this afternoon."

Only moments later, the family is gathered around a dead scarlet ibis in their yard, which foreshadows Doodle's death as well.

When the narrator and Doodle go to the water and climb into a skiff, darkness descends, signaling that Doodle's time is short:

Black clouds began to gather in the southwest, and he kept watching them, trying to pull the oars a little faster. When we reached Horsehead Landing, lightning was playing across half the sky and thunder roared out, hiding even the sound of the sea. The sun disappeared and darkness descended, almost like night.

The storm reflects the narrator's inner anger toward his brother who has now failed in his efforts to be "rehabilitated," and this anger will lead him to abandon Doodle in the storm. It also foreshadows Doodle's death, as night is often seen as the symbolic ending of a life.

The foreshadowing which is woven through "The Scarlet Ibis" establishes a solemn and ominous mood.

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Three examples of foreshadowing in James Hurst's short story, "The Scarlet Ibis," are the blighted summer of 1918, the scarlet ibis dead in the tree, and the thunderstorm at horsehead landing. The mood they create is reflective, solemn, and forlorn.  

In the summer before Doodle dies, the narrator describes the blight that has occurred. Their father is a farmer, and this blight will affect their future and livelihood. It also foreshadows pain and sadness to come. When Doodle and Brother are working on teaching Doodle to walk, it is spring, a time of rebirth. The blighted summer is dead--crops withering and dying in the punishing sun. Consider the quote below:

 "That summer, the summer of 1918, was blighted. In May and June there was no rain and the crops withered, curled up, then died under the thirsty sun. One morning in July a hurricane came out of the east, tipping over the oaks in the yard and splitting the limbs of the elm trees." 

It was in the "clove of seasons," as the narrator describes it, that the scarlet ibis lands in the bleeding tree. It was a time of transition between summer and fall. 

"At that moment the bird began to flutter, but the wings were...

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