Why did the author of Scarlet Ibis leave the narrator's name unknown?

Expert Answers
beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The unknown narrator creates anonymity and universality. By naming the narrator with the generic term, Brother, in “The Scarlet Ibis,” James Hurst is able to develop his character both within the family but more importantly, to make him identifiable to many readers. In the “Scarlet Ibis,” Brother works to improve Doodle’s skills because he is ashamed of the limitations that Doodle exhibits due to his heart condition. He does not have altruistic motives. The reader is allowed to identify with the narrator’s feelings without feeling guilty. Brother becomes the nameless, faceless feelings that often exist in us when we are ashamed. Brother works on improving Doodle until the child dies from the efforts. Because the narrator is unnamed, the reader is able to be angry with him instead of feeling sorry for him. If he had a true identity, most readers would have shown him pity and grieved with him, and for him. The author has allowed for different emotions within the reader by using this literary technique.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Ibis

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question