Explain the connection between Doodle and the ibis in the story "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst introduces the character of Doodle.  Along with Doodle comes the protagonist of the story, Brother. Doodle calls his older brother, Brother, who also serves as the narrator of the story.

Brother looks back at Doodle's story many years later.  It is only then that he can interject a more mature understanding of the events leading to Doodle's death. 

No one expected Doodle to live.  He was deformed with many internal problems.  Eventually, Brother does teach Doodle to walk,  and with tears, he proudly shows his little brother off to his parents.  This is when Brother admits that he has a cruel streak that rears its head sometimes with his brother.

One particular time, Brother made Doodle touch his own coffin:

I showed him his casket, telling him how we all believed he would die.  When I made him touch the casket, he screamed, crying 'Don't leave me, Brother!'

Brother would hear that cry again.

Later, everyone is seated at the lunch table at home.  A strange croak comes from the bleeding tree [it oozes red sap which is bright red in color].  Rushing to look, they find a large red bird up in the top branch looking dazed.  Suddenly, he falls to the ground; and with a jerk, he dies.  The father tells them it is a Scarlet Ibis, which normally lives in the tropics. A storm must have driven it off course, and it injured itself. 

It lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers and even death could not mar its beauty.

Doodle wants to immediately bury the beautiful bird.

Brother makes Doodle go to his swimming lessons.  He does not want to go because he tells Brother that he is tired.  A storm come up and scares Doodle who falls down in the mud.  Angrily and with the cruel streak rising again, Brother leaves Doodle and runs for shelter.

All he can hear is Doodle crying, asking him not to leave him.  Eventually, Brother goes back for his little brother.  It is too late! Doodle is found under a poisonous nightshade bush with blood on his shirt, bleeding from his mouth like the Ibis.  Brother realizes what he has done and screams.  Finally, he understands the value of his brother and cries to himself, sheltering Doodle, his fallen scarlet ibis.

As he remembers the events through his flashback,  the older Brother is able to better understand his actions as a thirteen year old boy.  With a more mature outlook, he accepts his responsibility for his part in the death of Doodle.  


soccerlover2 | Student

The death of the ibis forshadowes the death of doodle. The death of hte ibis sets the seious and unlucky enviroment of the end of the story. So doodle dies because of being struck by lightning.