Doodle was born physically very weak.
Doodle was born when the narrator was seven years old, and he was a disappointment from the start.
He seemed all head, with a tiny body that was red and shriveled like an old man's. Everybody thought he was going to die.
Doodle “crawled backward” and that is why his brother nicknamed him Doodle, like a doodlebug. The name stuck. He insisted on going with his brother wherever he went, but he couldn’t walk. Brother pulled him around in a cart, because he could not walk.
Brother is embarrassed that his five year old brother can’t walk, so he sets out to teach him.
He collapsed on to the grass like a half-empty flour sack. It was as if his little legs had no bones.
Brother is convinced that he can teach Doodle to do everything other boys do, but he can’t. The little boy is not able to learn to do anything else, and eventually the effort kills him.