In James Hurst's poignant story of two brothers who compete against time, there are similarities between Doodle and the scarlet ibis.
The brother is six years old when Doodle is born in a caul, an amniotic membrane that encloses his tiny body. It is a membrane not unlike the transparent protein membranes of a bird's egg from which the ibis emerges. Later in the narrative, when the scarlet ibis lands in the bleeding tree, he perches in a precarious position, trying to flutter his wings in an uncoordinated manner. Suddenly, he becomes unable to hold himself up, and the bird falls to the ground. In death, its legs are crossed and its thin feet curved.
After rowing their boat ashore against the tide, Doodle is unable to run as fast as his angry and disappointed brother who hurries ahead in a storm. Although he tries to keep up with his brother, much like the poor bird, Doodle collapses, with his knees drawn up to hold his head. When the angry brother calms himself and turns back for Doodle, he finds his brother in a similar position as the collapsed bird, and he knows Doodle is dead:
He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained with a brilliant red.
The brother screams against the noise of the storm, throwing himself to the ground above Doodle. After lying there and crying for a long time, he gathers his brother in his arms.
I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain.
Both Doodle and the scarlet ibis are too delicate for worldly storms.