When does "The Scarlet Ibis" take place?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If we read the story carefully, we can see that the date of when the story is set is provided for us. The action of the story is set during World War I, and there is a parallel between the way in which war led to the death of numerous soldiers that America was forced to watch helplessly die just as Doodle suffered and died. Note the following quote from the story that makes the timing of the setting of the story clear:

That summer, the summer of 1918, was blighted... And during that summer, strange names were heard through the house: Chateau-Thierry, Amiens, Soissons, and in her blessing at the supper table, Mama once said, "And bless the Pearsons, whose boy Joe was lost in Belleau Wood."

We see that whilst Doodle and the narrator struggle to train Doodle and to make him more physically active, at the same time another kind of conflict is occurring and intruding upon their lives, even though it is so far away. The year is clearly given, and the references to famous battles in Europe adds to this impact.

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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"The Scarlet Ibis" takes place in 1918, during World War I. This is made clear in the text when the narrator, Brother, talks about hearing "strange names" through the house. These names, like "Amiens" and "Soissons" refer to places in France where wartime fighting took place.

The story also makes reference to the number of American casualties as a result of this war. At the dinner table, for instance, Mama blesses the Pearson family, who have just lost a son at "Bellau Wood," another battle site in France.

The war in France, perhaps, resembles the war that Doodle is fighting at home as he tries to overcome his sickness and learn to walk. Just like many of the U.S. soldiers fighting overseas, however, Doodle is unable to overcome the numerous hurdles he faces and loses his life at the end of the story. 

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