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James Hurst's "The Scarlet Ibis" details a very complex relationship between the narrator and his brother, Doodle.
At different times in the novel, the narrator explains that he's ashamed of Doodle. First, he says,
It was bad enough having an invalid brother, but having one who possibly was not all there was unbearable, so I began to make plans to kill him by smothering him with a pillow."
Later, the narrator teaches Doodle to walk--not because he wants to be helpful, but because he's ashamed of having a "crippled" brother. When the family thanks the narrator for having taught Doodle to walk, he feels bad that his motives were born out of shame.
Throughout the course of the story, readers come to see Doodle as a very sensitive, kind person. Doodle views his brother as "infallible," and looks up to him with the admiration that many younger brothers have for their older siblings.
The ending of the story is certainly a sad one, and we can assume that the narrator's guilt over his treatment of Doodle continues to haunt him after the story's conclusion.
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