List some examples of Brother's selfish treatment of Doodle in "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst?.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst, Brother makes many mistakes.  He is thirteen, but old enough to know when he is cruel and too hard on his brother.  Doodle loves his brother unconditionally. However, Doodle does not have much choice in what he does with his brother because he is totally dependent on Brother.

Brother admits that he has done things for the wrong reasons; furthermore, he adds that he has a cruel streak.

There is inside me (and with sadness I have seen it in others) a knot of cruelty born by the stream of love. And at times, I was mean to Doodle.

The first shameful occurrence happens when Brother forces Doodle to touch his own casket.  Doodle screams and begs his brother not to leave him (foreshadowing the death of Doodle). Nothing can explain this incidence but cruelty.

The next time that Brother bears witness to treating Doodle despicably comes from his decision to teach Doodle to walk.  Admirable in its inception, Doodle does learn to walk.  Shameful,  in the recognition that Brother had done it to keep himself from having a crippled brother.  Even,  Brother realizes his selfishness in this when he begins to cry as proudly Doodle walks for the family.

Thinking himself able to teach Doodle anything, Brother pursues other lessons for Doodle. They set a deadline for the beginning of school.  Once Doodle began to cry when he collapsed on the ground.  Brother taunted him into trying again by telling him that he was different than everyone else at school. 

Doodle says: 'Does that make a difference?'

Children do not know they are different until someone points it out to them.

The most poignant time is the day that Doodle dies.  Doodle does not want to go the pond for swimming lessons.  He feels exhausted.  Brother does not listen and makes him go.  When he is unable to perform for Brother, his cruelty raises its head again.  A storm is coming and Brother begins to walk faster and faster. Leaving Doodle behind, Brother can hear him crying:

Brother, Brother, don't leave me! Don't leave me!

Going on, Brother finally returns to look for Doodle.  Unfortunately, for all, Brother finds Doodle dead under a nightshade bush.  In the end, Brother realizes what he has lost when Doodle was gone.

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The Scarlet Ibis

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