What type of weather do the Ironweeds have in "The Scarlet Ibis?"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The weather the Ironweeds have is implied through imagery and never explicitly stated except for the references to the "blighted" summer of 1918, the "hurricane" and the expanded description of the fatal "storm" that ends Doodle's life. Otherwise, weather is referred to in lyrical imagery painting an idyllic scene of a perfect climate breeding "laughter pealing ... like a ringing bell," "bright sunshine," "honeysuckle, yellow jasmine," fragrant smells and seasons that are born: "summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born."

The setting for "The Scarlet Ibis" is a cotton farm in North Carolina in the early pre-World War I. The weather is generally mild because the farm is not far from the coast and the wetlands--at one point, the narrator mentions that they are near a hurricane--and the winter temperatures can range from the 30s to the 60s Farhenheit; then, in the summer temperatures range from approximately 65 to 90 degrees Farhenheit. That the temperatures would be rather mild much of the time is due to the fact that the farm of Brother and Doodle and their parents is close to the wetlands and the coast. However, there is a mention of "dog days," those hot humid days of July and August.

The family lives near Old Woman Swamp, and Doodle, like his brother, appreciates its beauty. However, this area is subject to tropical storms, and it is during such a storm that Brother runs ahead of poor Doodle, a creature too weak to keep pace. It is in this usually lovely spot, with the rain pouring that Doodle collapses, and Brother returns to him only to find his "fallen scarlet ibis" in the "heresy of rain."

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The Scarlet Ibis

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