What are the similarities between the bird and Doodle in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Doodle and the Scarlet Ibis are similar in that both are rare and fragile beings.  Beautiful in their own way, yet oddly different and unusual.  The Ibis is red and in the end Doodle is left in a twisted pose similar to the Ibis and he, too, is red with blood.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The bird and Doodie are both different.
They are both rare.
They are both out of place, and fighting environments that are hostile to them.
They both die.
Both are red (the bird is red; Doodie bleeds).
Doodie "floats" above the expectations of others as the bird flies over head.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial