illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

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What type of conflict does Brother experience as he battles with himself between love and hate for Doodle, and between longing for a normal brother versus accepting Doodle's limitations?

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In “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst, Brother experiences internal conflict as he struggles with his relationship with Doodle. Internal conflict occurs in the psyche of a literary character. The resolution of the conflict creates suspense and purpose in the plot of the story. In comparison, external conflict pits a character against an outside force such as a natural disaster or another character.

Brother struggles with disappointment when Doodle is unable to live up to Brother’s vision of the perfect companion. Doodle is born with developmental disabilities severe enough for the family to question whether he will live. Brother goes as far as to plan ways to cause Doodle’s death. His pride interferes when he realizes Doodle is not going to die, and he is able to respond to the family.

To resolve the internal conflict, Brother pushes Doodle past his expected physical limits by teaching him to walk, row a boat, and swim. Unfortunately, the attempt to resolve Brother’s internal conflict ultimately leads to Doodle’s demise.

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