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In "The Scarlet Ibis," the narrator is sharing his memories of Doodle, his younger brother. The story opens with a memory of a scarlet ibis that fell dead in Doodle's yard:
"The Scarlet Ibis" opens with the narrator, Brother, reminiscing about a remarkable event that took place when he was a young boy at his family home at the end of the summer of 1918. A scarlet ibis, an exotic bird that does not belong in the narrator's region, landed in a tree in the family garden.
This memory sparks off other memories that the narrator had shared with Doodle. The narrator and Doodle share the memory of the viewing of the little coffin. The narrator took his little brother to the top of the barn to show him the coffin that had been ordered for Doodle. When Doodle was born, he was not expected to live long. The narrator's father had ordered a coffin just in case it was needed. After Doodle survived, the narrator enjoyed making Doodle afraid of the coffin. In fact, the narrator insisted that Doodle touch it or else he would leave Doodle alone with the coffin. In terror, Doodle cries, "Don't leave me."
Another memory would be the times the narrator and his brother shared by the swamp. The narrator spent many days teaching Doodle to walk. They shared play time together often. In fact, if the narrator went anywhere, he had to take Doodle along at his family's bidding. Doodle would cry to go along with his brother. The narrator did not want Doodle to begin school not knowing how to walk. He set a goal and reached that goal.
One glorious memory would be the day that the narrator and Doodle decided to share their secret. Doodle had learned to walk but the family did not know it yet. One day, the narrator told Doodle it was time to show everyone that he could walk. The family cries tears of joy. Of course, they praised the narrator for his determination and hard work in teaching Doodle to walk. The narrator secretly felt ashamed because he had selfish motives for teaching Doodle to walk. He was embarrassed that Doodle was beginning school and could not walk. Nonetheless, that was a glorious moment when Doodle walked across the floor in front of his family.
The last memory that the narrator and Doodle shared is when Doodle was running in the rain to catch up with his older brother. From sheer exhaustion, Doodle collapsed and died. The narrator was left with the last memory of seeing his brother alive. Upon Doodle's death, the older brother fell upon Doodle's lifeless body and cried bitter tears:
Brother recognizes the link between the ibis's fate and Doodle's. He weeps, sheltering Doodle's body from the rain with his own.
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