What evidence suggests that the narrator in "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst is superstitious?  

What evidence suggests that the narrator in "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst is superstitious?

 

 

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator of James Hurst’s short story “The Scarlet Ibis” demonstrates his superstitious nature a number of times in the story.

Doodle is born in a caul. To demonstrate his superstition, Brother mentions Aunt Nicey’s belief that babies born in a caul are special because cauls are made of “Jesus’ nightgown” and these babies have the potential to be saints. Brother takes note of Aunt Nicey’s belief and shares it with the reader, which expresses his own superstition surrounding William Armstrong’s birth and naming. “She said caul babies should be treated with special respect since they might turn out to be saints.”

When Doodle gains strength and begins to walk, Brother suggests they tell no one. He seems to be superstitious that something will go wrong if they tell anyone. They decide to surprise the rest of the family, and give clues about a surprise to come. They plan to share Doodle’s ability to walk on his birthday as if it is his rebirth.

Again, Brother shares Aunt Nicey's superstition as she speaks about the relevance of the dead Scarlet Ibis. These words foreshadow what is to come in the story.

“Dead birds is bad luck," said Aunt Nicey, poking her head from the kitchen door. "Specially red dead birds!”

Aunt Nicey’s prediction is true as the family’s faces the death of their own Scarlet Ibis, Doodle.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Ibis

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