What are ten characteristics which could be attributed to Doodle and his brother and five characteristics of the ibis in the short story "The Scarlet Ibis"?
James Hurst's short story "The Scarlet Ibis" is about two brothers growing up in coastal North Carolina in the first part of the 20th century. The narrator, who is never named, is six years older than his brother Doodle. Doodle is born with physical problems and at first the family believes he may die. Although he doesn't, he is physically challenged and doesn't learn to walk until he is five. The ibis, which dies in the family's front yard after a bad storm, is a symbol for Doodle and has some of the same characteristics.
The narrator could be considered active because he is a young boy who loves more than anything to run, swim and box. He's adventurous as he loves to explore the swamps around the family farm. He's confident in himself and, despite serious obstacles, is able to teach Doodle how to walk. He is at first independent and doesn't like taking Doodle with him on his adventures. He could definitely be considered masculine and he often clashes with his more sensitive brother. He's also sometimes mean and cruel:
There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction, and at times I was mean to Doodle.
He is prideful and cannot accept that his brother will be different and maybe even laughed at by other boys at school. So, he is determined to make Doodle as physically fit as he is. He is also impulsive as he lets his pride get the best of him when he runs away from Doodle in the rainstorm. In the end, the reader may also assume that the narrator is loving and ultimately regretful at losing Doodle.
Doodle's chief characteristics include sensitivity and fragility. He is physically challenged and often not able to keep up with his brother. He is sensitive about things, as when his brother shows him his coffin. He could be considered submissive to his brother and wants, more than anything, to please him.
Doodle also shows a very imaginative mind. He makes up fantasy stories. Within these stories he displays a wishful mentality. While, he is barely able to walk, the heroes in his stories can fly. This wishful thinking might also show a level of optimism on Doodle's part. He is extremely caring and devoted to his brother. He shows these same traits when he buries the dead ibis and sings a hymn at the bird's grave. Doodle is ultimately out of place. He does not fit into the hard, active world of his brother. He is too soft and fragile. It's not surprising that the rare and fragile ibis is a symbol for the boy.
The ibis is, above all, beautiful and delicate with its scarlet feathers and long neck. The narrator describes the bird:
Its long, graceful neck jerked twice into an S, then straightened out, and the bird was still. A white veil came over the eyes and the long white beak unhinged. Its legs were crossed and its clawlike feet were delicately curved at rest. Even death did not mar its grace, for it lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers, and we stood around it, awed by its exotic beauty.
The bird is rare in this part of North Carolina, having traveled many miles from its home in the tropics. Like Doodle, it is out of place in an environment it is not used to. Also, like Doodle, it is fragile. It cannot handle its long, physically taxing journey and dies not soon after it's discovered in the bleeding tree. Doodle, of course, also dies after pushing his body to the limit chasing his brother in the rainstorm.