What is the narrator's reaction to his new brother in the short story, "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Scarlet Ibis," the narrator's reaction to his new brother is generally negative. He says that the boy was a "disappointment" because of his frail appearance. He was "all head," for example, and had only a very "tiny body." Everybody, except the woman who delivered him, had the feeling that he would not survive. This makes the narrator feel disappointed because he wanted a brother with whom he could play and run. It is clear from the beginning that Doodle would not be able to do such things, if he survived.

This disappointment reaches it climax when the narrator decides to kill Doodle by smothering him with a pillow. One day, however, Doodle looks up at the narrator and smiles, an act which eases the narrator's sense of disappointment. In fact, the narrator now believes that Doodle is one of the family.

As Doodle grows up, the narrator becomes "embarrassed" by his brother and feels that he is a "burden" because of his physical disabilities. It is only when Doodle dies that the narrator's true feelings are revealed: he weeps and screams because he truly loved him.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    Doodle's brother greets the birth with mixed reactions in the James Hurst short story, "The Scarlet Ibis." Brother describes his new sibling as a "disappointment;" having a crippled brother would be bad enough, he thought, but one that was "not all there" would be unthinkable. So, the older brother made plans to "smother him with a pillow." But, one day, when Doodle looked up at Brother and grinned, the planned murder had to be scrapped. "He's all there. He's all there," the brother declared, and from that point on the two were rarely separable. Told that Doodle would never walk even if he did live, the little boy with the big heart learned to crawl and "he became one of us."

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The Scarlet Ibis

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