In what ways does Doodle demonstrate that he has his own unique personality in "The Scarlet Ibis"? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Doodle demonstrates his own unique personality with his sheer force of will, imagination, and with his appreciation for the aesthetic.

Force of will

  • While the doctor predicted after Doodle's birth that the strain of turning over or really moving would probably kill him because of his weak heart, he yet learns to crawl and "[F]or the first time he became one of us," the brother narrates.
  • When the brother is irritated that he must pull Doodle around in a wagon and tries to discourage Doodle from coming with him by whisking the wagon around curves on two wheels, Doodle tenaciously holds on to the sides of the wagon. The brother narrates, "Finally, I could see I was licked."
  • Despite the doctor's predictions, Doodle learns to walk so that he can be with his brother. "Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother."
  • Doodle learns to swim only as a willful response of his brother's insistence, despite his not sleeping well at night after he exerts himself so strenuously.
  • Despite his mother's admonition to not touch the fallen scarlet ibis, Doodle insists upon burying it.
  • Doodle exerts himself in his effort to run after his brother in the storm, although his refusal to give up costs him his life.

Imagination

Doodle's stories are very creative, assuming the elements of fable: The people in his narratives have wings and fly wherever they please; a boy wears a golden robe that 

glittered so brightly that when he walked through the sunflowers, they turned away from the sun to face him.                            

This boy owns a resplendent peacock whose magnificent tail covers the boy at night "burying him in the gloriously iridescent, rustling vortex."

Appreciation for the aesthetic 

  • When the brother takes Doodle to Old Woman Swamp,

...down into the green dimness where palmetto fronds whispered by the stream...His eyes were round with wonder as he gazed about him. 

Doodle is so moved by the beauty of this area that the sensitive boy cries.

  • After the scarlet ibis lands in the tree and then dies, Doodle recognizes it as a unique thing of beauty and feels compelled to bury it, singing softly Shall We gather at the River.