What is the time, place and overall atmosphere of the setting of "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Author James Hurst never specifically gives a location of Doodle's home in "The Scarlet Ibis," but since Hurst hailed from North Carolina and many of his short stories are set there, we can assume that this story takes place in the Tar Heel State. Horsehead Landing (apparently a fictitious waterway), where Doodle and his big brother spend much of their time, is probably near the Carolina coast. The time period is definite, however: The narrator's story takes place in the summer of 1918, and there are also specific World War I battles mentioned. The atmosphere of the setting provides sub-tropical weather conditions with lowland areas such as Old Woman Swamp nearby; a hurricane hits the area, bringing with it the scarlet ibis. The atmosphere is a peaceful one for the boys, who spend most of their time outside, daydreaming about one day living in the swamp and spending time together under the umbrella tree. The moods swing from hopeless (after Doodle's birth and during some of his early failures with Brother) to hopeful (as Doodle makes progress physically) to ecstatic (when he finally learns to walk), but the arrival of the "red, dead bird" brings an aura of foreboding that signals that Doodle's end is near.