What is the use of the red color as a symbol in the story "The Scarlet Ibis"?  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Variations of the color red are used throughout James Hurst's "The Scarlet Ibis." It is used to symbolize the blood that flows from Doodle onto his shirt at the end of the story. The redness of the bleeding tree is another symbol, with it's connotation of blood; like Doodle, it no longer survives as the brother retells his story from a later viewpoint. The ibis itself is vividly red--a bird that has somehow flown far from its native land only to die a lonely death, not unlike Doodle's own demise. The bird is also an endangered species--again, like Doodle--unable to breed successfully in native surroundings. Yet its red body makes it one of the most beautiful of all birds. Red symbolizes death, from Doodle's early days with his "red and shriveled" body; and bad luck, judging from Aunt Nicey's declaration about "Dead birds is bad luck... Specially red, dead birds." Doodle dies in the midst of "a red nightshade bush," blood running from his mouth "making his vermilion neck appear unusually long and thin."

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The Scarlet Ibis

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