What is the main idea in "The Scarlet Ibis"?Midterm study guide.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several main themes that run through James Hurst's short story, "The Scarlet Ibis." In addition to those already posted, you may want to consider the following:

LIFE IS FLEETING.  Life is short, and it was obvious since the day that Doodle was born that his existence would not be a long one. Spurred by his brother, Doodle overcame many of his physical deficiencies to accomplish more than could have ever been expected of him: running, swimming, fighting, climbing. Had he lived a bit longer, he may have eventually attended school as well.

APPEARANCES.  Many of Doodle's big brother's goals were based on a desire for others to see that he had a normal brother. Big Brother was embarrassed to pull his brother around in a wagon, and he wanted Doodle to fit into his own world. At the end, when he saw that Doodle would fall short, he abandoned him.

BROTHERHOOD.  Brothers are supposed to feel a bond between one another, and Big Brother may have felt that his relationship with Doodle was a bit one-sided. Although the narrator helps Doodle to accomplish many things, Doodle, too, has given his brother many memories--good and bad. Since the story is told in retrospect, it is obvious that Doodle's passing has not eliminated his brother's memories of the "craziest brother a boy ever had."

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many ideas in the short story 'The Scarlet Ibis' but one of the most commonly discussed is guilt - or responsibilty. Many readers like to argue and analyse the degree to which the author does or should feel guilt for Doodle's death. This death is starkly painted on readers' (and the narrator's) mind by the stunning imagery - both of the dead bird and of the dead litle boy. Sickly white, long gangly lifeless legs and the scarlet of blood impress the shocking death as firmly on the minds of readers as it does on the psyche of the narrator. Too young to cope with the enormity of the event, the older brother runs off and leaves Doodle's body in the rain. to complicate the guilt theme further, it is possible that the older brother is also responsible for many of the successes of the younger disabled boy. Taught by a positive and visionary older brother he learns to walk, run and have fun.

tullye1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a strong conflict that arises within Brother.  He loves his handicapped brother, Doodle, but at the same time, he is ashamed of Doodle.  Brother gives in to his pride of not wanting a handicapped brother and forces Doodle to do things that Doodle cannot accomplish.  In the end, this pride causes the death of Doodle.  Pride is a very dangerous thing.

sarahxbabs | Student

Not to put yourself first. like how he wanted his parents to be proud of him becuase doodle could swim. then their honoring him was like his heroin.. and he wanted to do it again for himself and not doodle. but he learns that too late.