illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

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What did Doodle want in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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Above all else, Doodle wants to live. He is terrified of the coffin his parents had made for him. When Brother threatens to leave him alone unless he touches the coffin, Doodle pleads with Brother not to leave him. Doodle defies the odds and the doctors and does survive. He continues to defy the odds when Brother teaches him to walk. Doodle seems satisfied with his life. He is thoughtful and observant. Note when he is overwhelmed by the beauty of nature as he looks upon Old Woman Swamp saying, "So pretty, pretty, pretty." Even though Doodle is satisfied with his life, in simply surviving and contemplating the world, he does try to become more "normal" for Brother's sake; he struggles to live up to Brother's training and expectations because he never wants Brother to leave him. At the end of the story, when Doodle and Brother are rushing back home from the creek, Brother thoughtlessly runs ahead. Doodle's fear returns: 

"Brother, brother, don't leave me! Don't leave me!" 

Two things Doodle wants: 1) To live and 2) That Brother will never leave him and/or that he will never be alone. 

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