What examples of characterization are used to show the narrator's character in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Scarlet Ibis," the author uses various examples and details to show the character of the narrator. The narrator is the older brother of Doodle. As the older brother, he admits that he is ashamed of Doodle because Doodle is handicapped. He admits that he has a mean streak. This is evident when the narrator shows Doodle the little coffin that had been made for him when he was first born:

When I made him touch the casket, he screamed. And even when we were outside in the bright sunshine he clung to me, crying, 'Don't leave me, Brother! Don't leave me!'

The author reveals more about the character of the narrator as he is so ashamed of his handicapped brother until he decides he will teach Doodle to walk.

I was embarrassed at having a brother of that age who couldn't walk, so I set out to teach him. We were down in Old Woman Swamp. 'I'm going to teach you to walk, Doodle,' I said.

This took great effort, but the narrator finally accomplished his goal and taught Doodle to walk. When the family saw that Doodle could walk, the mother began crying for joy. Next, the reader sees the true character of the older brother when he begins crying:

'What are you crying for?' asked Daddy, but I couldn't answer. They didn't know that I did it just for myself, that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother.

Clearly, the older brother had taught Doodle so much. However, his motives were selfish. He did everything for Doodle out of shame of his little brother's handicap.

In the end, Doodle dies, and the narrator is hard on himself, feeling that Doodle's death is his fault. When the narrator stretches himself over Doodle's body,  he begins crying because Doodle is dead. At this point, the reader realizes how much the narrator has truly loved his brother Doodle.