The narrator of "The Scarlet Ibis" says, "There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love..." Give two examples of his cruelty to...

The narrator of "The Scarlet Ibis" says, "There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love..." Give two examples of his cruelty to Doodle.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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When Doodle was born, everyone thought he was going to die. His father, "Daddy," even hires a carpenter to make a coffin for Doodle. For some morbid reason, the family keeps the coffin, even after Doodle had begun to crawl and talk. Right after Brother admits to his cruelty in the quote above, he discusses the time he had taken Doodle to the loft in the barn and showed him the coffin. Brother tells Doodle he won't help him down until he touches the coffin. Doodle is too scared. Then Brother threatens to leave him there. As scared as he is of the coffin, Doodle is even more terrified to be left alone: 

Doodle was frightened of being left. “Don’t leave me, Brother,” he cried, and leaned toward the coffin. His hand, trembling, reached out, and when he touched the casket, he screamed. 

Brother finally carries him out with Doodle repeating the phrase "Don't leave me." 

At the end of the story, when it begins to rain, Brother races ahead, leaving Doodle behind. Selfishly, Brother is angry that Doodle had not made enough progress in becoming more like a "normal" kid. Once again, Brother openly admits his cruelty: 

The knowledge that Doodle's and my plans had come to naught was bitter, and that streak of cruelty within me awakened. I ran as fast as I could, leaving him far behind with a wall of rain dividing us. 

Brother literally and symbolically leaves Doodle. And remember that this is Doodle's greatest fear: to be left alone. Doodle struggles to keep up and this leads to his death. 

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