illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

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Select and explain an important quote from "The Scarlet Ibis".

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A very important quotation from this story comes from the end, when the narrator looks at the body of his dead brother, Doodle, and he is compared explicitly to the scarlet ibis, the bird that was previously found dying on their tree in their back yard. Note how this comparison is achieved:

He say very awkwardly, with his head thrown far back, making his vermilion neck appear unusually long and slim. His little legs, bent sharply at the knees, had never before seemed so fragile, so thin. I began to weep, and the tear-blurred vision in red before me looked very familiar.

The reference to Doodle's "vermilion neck" being "unusually long and slim," and his very "fragile" and "thin" limbs cause the narrator to weep, blurring what he can see and making Doodle resemble even more the dead scarlet ibis found in their yard. This is an important quote because it demonstrates the link that there is between Doodle and the scarlet ibis. Both are very rare and don't really fit into their natural environment. Both are ignored and seen as something of an oddity. It is only in their death that their true value is seen and appreciated. Of course, by then, it is too late for the brother to show Doodle how proud he is of his younger brother and how much he loves him.

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