- He is a dreamer.
Doodle makes up crazy lies and plans to marry his Mama and live in Old Woman Swamp.
- He is unusually small.
He is "all head" with a "tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man's."
- He crawled backwards when he was young.
Doodle received his nickname because he crawled "as if he were in reverse" and would "back right up to you to be picked up."
- He was a "slave" to his pride.
He taught Doodle to walk to satisfy his own wants and so that he wouldn't embarrass him in front of his friends.
- He loved the water.
The older brother loves to swim, row at Horsehead Landing, and play in Old Woman Swamp.
- He desperately needed a playmate.
Although he knew it would put a strain on Doodle, he pushed him to swim, fight, run and row.
Doodle is mentally and physically handicapped. Readers are told early in the story that Doodle's body and head are not proportional. Doodle's mother also tells Brother that Doodle isn't likely "all there" mentally.
Doodle is determined. Brother pushes his brother hard to learn to walk and run, and Doodle very easily could have given up; however, Doodle doesn't give up. He is determined to be able to stay with his brother.
Doodle is fearful of being alone. He is most fearful of Brother leaving him alone. Doodle loves his brother, and he loves being with his brother. The very thought of Brother leaving him terrifies Doodle. It's why Doodle says "Don't leave me" four times throughout the story.
Brother is prideful. He openly admits that he is ashamed of having a brother that can't walk.
Brother, like Doodle, is determined. Brother's determination to see his brother walk might be motivated by pride, but that doesn't change the fact that Brother doesn't give up on Doodle. He works with Doodle for weeks to get him to take just a few steps.
Brother likes having a brother. If Brother didn't like having a sibling to hang out with, he wouldn't have spent all that time and energy teaching Doodle to walk, run, climb trees, etc. Brother might complain a few times during the story about having Doodle with him, but Brother always takes Doodle with him. Lastly, the story is filled with more fun brother adventures than bad. Despite the story ending very sadly, it's clear that Brother loves Doodle very dearly.