What motivates Doodle, in The Scarlet Ibis, to treat the ibis as he does?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In James Hurst's short story, The Scarlet Ibis, Doodle treats the ibis with the utmost respect and care.

Doodle's first, and last, experience with the bird came as it fell dead at the base of the family's "bleeding tree."

At that moment, the bird began to flutter. It tumbled down through the bleeding tree and landed at our feet with a thud. Its graceful neck jerked twice and then straightened out, and the bird was still. It lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers, and even death could not mar its beauty.

Doodle immediately states that he is going to bury the bird.

Doodle treats the bird as he does based upon one fact: Doodle relates to the bird. The bird was broken, much like Doodle. When Doodle was born "he seemed all head, with a tiny body that was red and shriveled like an old man's. Everybody thought he was going to die." It was these thoughts, that Doodle would die, that his father built him a coffin when he was three months old.

Doodle, seeing that the bird would most likely be left under the tree, felt it was only right to bury the bird. Most certainly Doodle felt as if he, himself, were the bird. Like the bird, "nobody expects much from someone called Doodle." IN the same way, Doodle is almost certain that no one expects much of the bird (or for the bird). Therefore, feeling a tie to the bird, Doodle insures that he is put to rest (buried) properly.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Ibis

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