What is your opinion of Doodle's character?  Think about his strengths and weaknesses, why his brother is such a great influence on him, and what his "lies" may reveal about him?

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jjohnson112 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character of Doodle in "The Scarlet Ibis" has many strengths and weaknesses.  One of his strengths is his love for his brother.  Doodle loves his brother so much he willingly allows himself to be taught by him.  In secret, Doodle learns to walk because of his desire to please his brother.  

Doodle's other strength is his love of nature.  When they find the dead scarlet ibis, it is Doodle who lovingly buries the creature.  

Doodle's weaknesses are mostly mental and physical in nature.  He is born with a disability that makes it difficult for him to learn to walk.  In fact, he is nicknamed "Doodle" by his brother, because Doodle can only scoot backward like a doodle-bug.

Doodle's brother, only known as "Brother," influences Doodle greatly.  Because Doodle's parents insist that Brother take Doodle with him everywhere, Brother becomes a significant person in Doodle's life.  Brother takes a special interest in teaching Doodle to walk.  However, he teaches him out of shame, not love.  

Brother describes Doodle as someone who likes to tell lies.

My lies were scary, involved, and usually pointless, but Doodle's were twice as crazy. People in his stories all had wings and flew wherever they wanted to go. His favorite lie was about a boy named Peter who had a pet peacock with a ten-foot tail. Peter wore a golden robe that glittered so brightly that when he walked through the sunflowers they turned away from the sun to face him. When Peter was ready to go to sleep, the peacock spread his magnificent tail, enfolding the boy gently like a closing go-to-sleep flower, burying him in the glorious iridescent, rustling vortex. Yes, I must admit it. Doodle could beat me lying.

These lies are revealing.  Perhaps Doodle sees himself as the boy Peter, who is plain compared to the gloriously beautiful peacock.  Or perhaps Doodle sees himself as the peacock, different in his looks, but beautiful in his love and worship of his brother.

Based on the above, readers may have differing opinions about Doodle.  Some readers may identify with Doodle and understand his willingness to push beyond his limits to win the approval of his brother.  Some readers may think that Doodle is unwise to put so much trust in a brother who clearly would rather not be around him.  Some readers may see the parallel between the scarlet ibis and Doodle, understanding that like the ibis, Doodle is out of his element and is unable to survive in a harsh environment for very long.