illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

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What is the point of view in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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The point of view, or vantage point, from which the narrative of "The Scarlet Ibis" is told is that of first person narrative with the brother of Doodle being the narrator. Told from this perspective of the brother, William Armstrong is presented to the reader as a "nice crazy" who first becomes one of the family when he was three as he was put on the rug before the fireplace. The little boy is given the name of Doodle when he crawls backwards because, the narrator explains, "nobody expects much from someone called Doodle."

Clearly, there is much direct characterization as the narrator evaluates Doodle himself. For example, he states that Doodle "was a burden in many ways" but that he is "licked" because he must take Doodle everywhere with him. In addition, the first person point of view also provides the reader an insight into the narrator's soul as he touches upon a characteristic of many:

There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction, and at times I was mean to Doodle.

Indeed, it is the narrator's pride and his "knot of cruelty" which lead to his forcing Doodle to walk because he is ashamed of having a crippled brother, Sadly, too, this pride in the narrator leads to the death of the "scarlet ibis," his brother Doodle because he tried to remake Doodle in his image.Truly, "The Scarlet Ibis" is as much the narrator's story as it is that of Doodle. 

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