Why does James Hurst set "The Scarlet Ibis" during the war?

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James Hurst's "The Scarlet Ibis" is the story of two brothers growing up in coastal North Carolina in the early part of the 20th century. The mention of war at a midway point in the story is symbolic of the war which is going on between the brothers. During the story, Hurst makes reference to the battles of World War I and the boys' mother prays for a fallen soldier who was a neighbor. The allusion comes at a point in the story when the brothers are at a crossroads in their lives. The older brother wants Doodle to become physically vigorous and has designed a regiment of activity which he hopes will make Doodle the equal of the other boys at school. Above all, the brother doesn't want Doodle to embarrass him. Their relationship during this time is antagonistic and stormy (the weather is also a symbol of this struggle). Doodle questions why he needs to be as physically strong as his brother. His inclination is to be more sensitive and to simply appreciate the wonders of nature. The brother, however, is not to be dissuaded and he eventually pushes Doodle too far. His pride and stubbornness in remaking Doodle ends in tragic circumstances as Doodle dies of internal bleeding by exhausting himself after chasing his brother during a rainstorm.

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