Why did the narrator's family build a coffin for Doodle?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Doodle is the narrator's little brother. When Doodle is born, the narrator admits that his baby brother is a great disappointment. He tells us that Doodle is 'all head, with a tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man's.' To top it off, Doodle is sickly and so weak that almost everyone in the family thinks he might die. Only Aunt Nicey, who delivered him, has faith in Doodle thriving.

Just in case the baby doesn't survive, the narrator's father goes ahead and commissions Mr. Heath, the carpenter, to fashion a mahogany coffin. However, Doodle lives, and after three months, the narrator's parents name him William Armstrong. However, the narrator doesn't think this is a good name for his baby brother because he doesn't think Doodle will live up to such a grand name.

They named him William Armstrong, which is like tying a
big tail on a small kite. Such a name sounds good only on a tombstone.