The Scarlet Ibis Questions and Answers
by James Hurst

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What is your reaction to the narrator's treatment of Doodle at the end of the story and what specific aspects of the story cause u to have it? What is your reaction to the narrator's treatment of Doodle at the end of the story and what specific aspects of the story cause u to have it?

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This answer to this question is based on an individual reader's opinion of what happens at the end of the story. During several parts of the story, Brother shows Doodle an incredible amount of patience when nobody else is willing to do that. Brother's patience and never give up attitude are big reasons as to why Doodle met with the success that he does; however, even the most patient of people has their limit. My personal reaction to Brother leaving Doodle like that wasn't a reaction of horror or incredulity. Honestly, my original reaction was something similar to "yeah, that makes sense." I feel horrible that Doodle died, and I can't imagine the guilt that Brother feels; however, his running away from Doodle is a typical frustrated big brother move. Even on that very day, Brother is amazing with Doodle. He is both kind and patient.

Doodle was both tired and frightened, and when he stepped from the skiff he collapsed onto the mud, sending an armada of fiddler crabs rustling off into the marsh grass. I helped him up, and as he wiped the mud off his trousers, he smiled at me ashamedly.

Despite his patience, Brother is still a bit frustrated at the failure.

He had failed and we both knew it, so we started back home, racing the storm.

He doesn't want to say anything about it to Doodle, because he knows that Doodle is watching him closely. Brother tries to act cool, calm, and collected, but Doodle's close following is just one bit of Doodle that Brother can't handle at that moment.

The lightning was near now, and from fear he walked so close behind me he kept stepping on my heels. The faster I walked, the faster he walked, so I began to run.

Brother runs faster and faster just to get some space from his brother and doesn't want to help any more at that moment. Doodle's cries fall on deaf ears because Brother just needs/wants some space for a minute or two. His actions are quite typical of siblings, and I find it hard to fault him over his actions.

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Edith Sykes eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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My reaction at the end of the story, is one of horror.  It was disturbing to read the part where Brother runs away from Doodle.  I don't think that Brother realized just how fragile his little brother was because he was so brave and tried to keep up with him.  

Even though Doodle was handicapped, he was so full of love for life.  Brother leaves Doodle behind, in an act of betrayal of trust.  Doodle really loves and admires his brother, his behavior is tragic,  because he does not realize the consequences.    

Towards the end of the story, the narrator, Brother grows frustrated with Doodle, tired of waiting for his slow handicapped brother to catch up with him.  He decides to keep running even though his brother is screaming, pleading for him to wait for him.  He feels the need to run away from his little, sickly brother, tired of being shadowed by him.

The narrator's lapse of judgement, leaving his handicapped, fragile brother behind in the rain, causes the young boy to die.  As a result of this, Brother realizes that he abused Doodle.  He cradles his body, shielding it from the rain, but it is too late for Doodle.   

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