In "The Scarlet Ibis," what is the scarlet ibis?
What is important to remember when reading this moving short story is that the scarlet ibis is used by Hurst as a symbol for Doodle, so try and identify the similarities between them. The scarlet ibis is a medium-sized bird found on the whole in South America. They tend to travel in flocks and group together, nesting in large colonies. What is striking about its appearance is that, apart from its black wing tips, the scarlet ibis is entirely red. Its bright colouring comes from the pigment in the crustaceans and small marine animals that it consumes. The ibis family is an ancient group of birds and there are more than twenty different kind of species. The Egyptians considered them sacred, and mummified ibises have been found in temples. Fossils have been found of ibises dating back to more than sixty million years.
Both Doodle and the ibis are therefore clearly unique and rare as presented in this story, but the tragedy of the story lies in the fact that the narrator only appreciates this fact once it is too late.