What exactly is Doodle's disease in the story, "Scarlet Ibis?"

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linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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From the description of Doodle as being "all head," he might have been born with a birth defect called hydrocephaly. Normally, spinal fluid is produced inside the brain to cushion and protect it. Babies born with hydrocephaly produce too much spinal fluid, which causes their heads to grow too large. Often growth of the head can be controlled with a permanent shunt that drains the excess spinal fluid into the stomach. However, the child will most likely have learning disorders. If the child doesn't receive the shunt, then the head will continue to grow, and the excess spinal fluid will put too much pressure on the brain. Life expectancy would not be long.

I know a young man who was born with this condition. Sadly, his birth mother abandoned him when she saw what he looked like, but he was adopted by wonderful parents who made sure he got the shunt surgeries he needed. He is legally blind, and he has a low IQ, but he is able to take care of himself. He went to auto/diesel school and has a career as a mechanic.

Visit the links below for more information on this birth defect.

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Doodle is mentally and physically retarded. According to the story, Doodle is born brain damaged which causes him to have underdeveloped muscle coordination.  He cannot walk. His heart was weak.  He had little physical strength. The quote refers to Doodle being born in a caul, or a membrane that surrounds a baby's head. 

"He seemed all head, with a tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man's.  She said he would live because he was born in a caul,  and cauls were made from Jesus' nightgown." (pg. 1 Hurst)

"The doctor said that with his weak heart this strain would probably kill him". (pg. 1 Hurst)

desiree123's profile pic

desiree123 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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"He seemed all head, with a tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man's.  She said he would live because he was born in a caul,  and cauls were made from Jesus' nightgown." (pg. 1 Hurst)

it was not a specific disease....he just wasnt fully developed when he was born =]

mia69's profile pic

mia69 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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he had a heart problem and they knew he was not goin gto live long..

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