illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst
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What does author James Hurst mean when he added the scarlet ibis dying in front of Doodle?

The scarlet ibis is the symbol of the child. Its journey to the family in a storm symbolizes his journey from life to death. The tree in which it died foreshadows Doodle’s death under that same tree.

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James Hurst’s use of the dying bird in “The Scarlet Ibis” is both symbolic and demonstrates foreshadowing.

The scarlet ibis is a rare bird that was pushed to its limits by a storm. It was exhausted from being blown many miles from its native home. It...

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James Hurst’s use of the dying bird in “The Scarlet Ibis” is both symbolic and demonstrates foreshadowing.

The scarlet ibis is a rare bird that was pushed to its limits by a storm. It was exhausted from being blown many miles from its native home. It was sick and out of its element. After it landed in the bleeding tree it died in front of the family.

Sadly, we all looked back at the bird. A scarlet ibis! How many miles it had traveled to die like this, in our yard, beneath the bleeding tree.

Doodle took pity on the beautiful, red bird and gave it a proper burial. Aunt Nicey tells the family dead birds, especially red ones, are bad luck. This foreshadows Doodle’s death. Brother pushed Doodle to his limit, he achieved things that were never expected of him. He was tired and afraid of the storm when he sought shelter in the bleeding tree. He was a rare, delicate child who died under the same tree in which the bird died. James Hurst parallels the two incidents.

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