Why does Brother consider Doodle crazy in the beginning of "The Scarlet Ibis?"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While the brother declares, "Doodle was about the craziest brother a boy ever had," the reader must determine the implied meaning of the word crazy.  For, rather than the customary denotation of insane, demented, or made, perhaps the alternate meaning of weak, infirm, shaky, tottering may better apply.

Here are some reasons why the brother considers Doodle this alternate definition:

  1. When Doodle is born, he is a "disappointment"; he has a shriveled, reddish body and appears too frail to live.
  2. When he learns to crawl, Doodle crawls backwards.
  3. He cries when struck by the beauty of Old Woman Swamp.
  4. He is frail and learns to walk only after the brother insists that he does, working long hours with Doodle.
  5. Even when the boys are outside in sunny weather, Doodle clings to his brother, begging him, "Don't leave me."
  6. Doodle is unable to accomplish other boyish activities such as swimming, climbing, and rowing a boat; he cannot "keep up" with his brother.
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