Explain your opinion of the narrator's behavior at the end of the story. Is he in some way responsible for Doodle's death? Is his emotion at the very end sorrow, guilt, or something else?
By the end, who do you pity more--the narrator or Doodle? Why?
Do you think the narrator makes any kind of discovery at the story's end, as he cradles his brother's little body?
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I pity Doodle more. His motivation was pure. Everything he did, he did out of love for and a desire to please his brother. Think about the terrifying end to his life. The brother was truly sorrowful, but he brought it on himself and Doodle.
The narrator does bear personal responsibility for Doodle's death, which he realizes as the narrator looking back and telling the story. By pushing Doodle so hard and abandoning him at the end of another physically exhausting day, the narrator creates the circumstances that result in Doodle's death, since the little boy was not physically strong. In the poignant conclusion, when the narrator's selfish anger fades, he returns to find his brother dead. As he holds Doodle's body, he feels overwhelming grief and some realization of his part in Doodle's death. As the mature narrator, however, he has come to understand himself and his actions. He realizes, finally, that as a child himself, he had been selfish and cruel because of his own need to succeed in his role as Doodle's teacher. His pride in his own accomplishments had caused Doodle's death.
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