Doodle can move, and his brother thinks that when he crawls backwards he looks like a doodlebug.
Doodle was born sickly, and his older brother was not very impressed with him. For one thing, he did not believe that his name was fitting anywhere but on a tombstone. Instead of William Armstrong, which was too big for him, the older brother decided to give him a nickname. Since he was little and sickly, he could not walk or move around easily. It is not true, however, that he could not move at all. He could crawl. He just could not crawl in a straight line, apparently.
When he crawled, he crawled backwards, as if he were in reverse and couldn't change gears. Crawling backward made him look like a doodlebug,so I began to call him Doodle.
Doodle actually moved around a lot, and talked a lot. For being a weakling, he was actually quite active. He loved his brother and doted on his brother. His brother considered him a burden because he had to be treated “gently.”
A long list of don'ts went with him, all of which I ignored once we got out of the house. … Doodle was my brother and he was going to cling to me forever, no matter what I did …
A brother who won’t listen to doctors can accomplish extraordinary things, because Doodle does grow stronger and even walks. Unfortunately, it is Doodle’s desire to be with his brother no matter what that leads to his downfall. He pushes himself too far for his brother, and weakens himself too much, and perishes because of it.
Doodle sacrifices himself out of his desire to please his brother, and show that he can defy the odds. He almost does, but his brother will have to live with the fact that he caused the little boy’s death.