In The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst, what sin does the brother believe is responsible for his actions? 

In The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst, what sin does the brother believe is responsible for his actions?

 

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The early Christian philosopher St. Augustine once said, "It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men angels." Pride is also considered to be one of the seven deadly sins and this is probably what the narrator meant when he admitted that he displayed pridefulness toward his brother Doodle, although the word "sin" is never used. The narrator's pride will not allow him to admit that his brother is crippled and may never do the things which the narrator believes are important, such as running fast, swimming and boxing. The narrator, who is revealing the story in a flashback, openly admits his pride in the description of his feelings after he and Doodle show their parents that the boy can walk:

They did not know that I did it for myself, that pride, whose slave I was, spoke to me louder than all their voices, and that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother. 

Later, this pride gets the best of the narrator when, after his plan fails to make Doodle as physically strong as other boys, he runs away from Doodle in a driving rainstorm. Once his pride and "childish spite" subside, it is too late and he finds Doodle dead from over-exhaustion and internal bleeding. While it would be a stretch to say that the narrator killed his brother (Doodle had major physical challenges), it is certainly true that he contributed to the boy's death through his misplaced pride.

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The Scarlet Ibis

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