illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

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What is the content and the figurative language in this story? what is the figurative language that makes this story so inspiring? what words does the author use to describe the story in an understanding way?

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The Scarlet Ibis is one of the most beautiful stories ever. Essentially the entire story is a metaphor as the fragile scarlet ibis is compared to the disabled Doodle. Not only is the ibis a metaphor it is also a symbol which is also an important part of the story as well. The scarlet ibis is a carefully chosen symbol, it is symbolically linked with Doodle from the beginning of the plot, as the memory of the ibis's arrival triggers in Brother's mind the memory of Doodle, and Doodle immediately feels a bond with the bird. Like the ibis, Doodle is a being alone, different, singled out, with no flock, out of his natural environment. Like the ibis, he does not thrive in the environment in which he finds himself: he is delicate, sickly, and fragile. But while the ibis's beauty is obvious to Doodle, Doodle's beauty of spirit is hidden inside an unattractive exterior; thus, the bird externalizes Doodle's inner nature. Doodle is associated with winged and divine beings, just as the bird is literally a winged creature. Both boy and bird are characterized by sacred imagery. It could be argued that both are symbolically linked with Christ.

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