What do the brothers reveal on Doodle's sixth birthday in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Brother has taught Doodle to walk on his sixth birthday.

Doodle is a very sickly boy.  He was born so weak that his family built him a coffin.  His brother decided that his name, William Armstrong, sounded good only on a tombstone.  He nicknamed the little boy Doodle because he crawled backwards.

Doodle does not learn to walk at the age that babies usually learn to.  Brother does not give up though.  He decides to teach Doodle how to walk, secretly, and reveal it to the family later.

We decided not to tell anyone until he was actually walking. At breakfast on our chosen day I brought Doodle to the door in the cart. I helped Doodle up; and when he was standing alone, I let them look. 

The family is happy to see Doodle walking, of course.  As Doodle gets older, he gets stronger and learns to walk better.  Soon, brother wants to teach him to run, swim, climb trees, and fight.  Unfortunately, Doodle cannot keep up.

One day, Brother takes the training too far.  He takes Doodle out in a storm, and he pushes too far.  Brother gets frustrated because his plan has not worked.  Doodle is not getting strong.  He leaves Doodle, and calls back to him.

I peered through the downpour, but no one came. Finally I went back and found him huddled beneath a red nightshade bush beside the road. He was sitting on the ground, his face buried in his arms, which were resting on drawn-up knees.

Eventually this is too much.  Like the scarlet ibis, Doodle collapses and dies.  Brother tried to make him into something he wasn’t.  He showed Doodle only a small amount of brother’s compassion when his brother was alive, and regrets not showing more now that he is dead.

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