illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

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Discussion Topic

The traits and similarities between Doodle, his brother, and the scarlet ibis in "The Scarlet Ibis."

Summary:

Doodle, his brother, and the scarlet ibis share traits of vulnerability and uniqueness. Doodle and the ibis both struggle in environments where they don't naturally belong, symbolizing fragility and the harshness of the world around them. Doodle's brother, while more robust, also exhibits a sense of protectiveness and guilt, mirroring the compassion and connection between the characters and the bird.

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What are three traits each for Doodle and his brother in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle is portrayed as a persistent, determined boy who follows his brother's instructions and rigorous training sessions. Although Doodle is physically handicapped and would rather enjoy the natural setting of Old Woman Swamp, he routinely practices walking on his own and eventually shocks his family by doing so on his sixth birthday.

Doodle is also an innocent, gentle boy who is afraid that his brother will leave him. Doodle demonstrates his innocence by imagining that his family will live together in Old Woman Swamp and completely trusting his selfish brother. Doodle also illustrates his pure soul and innocence by burying the scarlet ibis after the storm. Doodle is also a unique boy. In addition to his rare handicap, Doodle has a unique personality and imagination. According to his brother, Doodle tells the best "lies" and brings joy to the family. Doodle's sensitivity, compassion, and obedience also contribute to his unique personality.

Doodle's brother, the narrator, is a cruel adolescent. Doodle's brother purposely tips him in the wagon, forces Doodle to touch his casket in the attic, and leaves him behind during a severe storm. Doodle's brother is also selfish and insecure. The main reason Doodle's brother forces him to walk and participate in his difficult regimen is to appease his ego and ameliorate his own insecurities. Doodle's brother does not want to be made fun of for having a handicapped brother and is selfishly motivated to teach him how to walk.

Doodle's brother is also remorseful and regrets mistreating Doodle. Doodle's brother experiences guilt for pushing Doodle past his physical limits and struggles to cope with the memory of his deceased brother. The entire recollection of Doodle's tragic death haunts the narrator's memory, and he feels guilty for leaving his vulnerable brother behind.

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What are three traits each for Doodle and his brother in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle is extremely loyal to his brother and insists on tagging along wherever the narrator goes. Doodle cries when his brother leaves without him and participates in physically taxing exercises to please him. Doodle tells his brother on several occasions "Don't leave me" and ends up dying trying to keep pace with him.

Doodle is imaginative and the narrator mentions that he could tell the best "lies." The narrator recalls Doodle's fantastic stories about a boy named Peter, who had a pet peacock with a ten-foot tail.

Doodle is also sensitive and sympathetic. When a storm drives a scarlet ibis from its natural habitat and it dies in the narrator's backyard, Doodle buries the exotic bird while singing the hymn "Shall We Gather at the River."

The narrator is a prideful individual who does not want to have a disabled brother. In an attempt to make Doodle "normal," the narrator forces his brother to participate in a difficult exercise regimen so that he will be like the rest of his peers at school. The narrator even admits that his personal pride motivated him to teach Doodle how to walk.

The narrator is insensitive and callous at times towards his younger brother. The narrator flips Doodle from his wagon in an attempt to discourage him from tagging along and also forces Doodle to touch his mahogany casket in the attic. He also pushes Doodle past his physical limitations, which ends up killing him.

The narrator is also ambitious. The narrator's ambition is revealed in his plan and dedication to helping Doodle walk. Initially, everyone believes that Doodle is incapable of walking on his own. However, the ambitious narrator comes up with a strict regimen, where he helps Doodle practice how to walk while they are spending time at Old Woman Swamp. Hurst writes,

It seemed so hopeless from the beginning that it's a miracle I didn't give up. But all of us must have something or someone to be proud of, and Doodle had become mine.

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What are three traits each for Doodle and his brother in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle is mentally and physically handicapped. Readers are told early in the story that Doodle's body and head are not proportional. Doodle's mother also tells Brother that Doodle isn't likely "all there" mentally.

Doodle is determined. Brother pushes his brother hard to learn to walk and run, and Doodle very easily could have given up; however, Doodle doesn't give up. He is determined to be able to stay with his brother.

Doodle is fearful of being alone. He is most fearful of Brother leaving him alone. Doodle loves his brother, and he loves being with his brother. The very thought of Brother leaving him terrifies Doodle. It's why Doodle says "Don't leave me" four times throughout the story.

Brother is prideful. He openly admits that he is ashamed of having a brother that can't walk.

Brother, like Doodle, is determined. Brother's determination to see his brother walk might be motivated by pride, but that doesn't change the fact that Brother doesn't give up on Doodle. He works with Doodle for weeks to get him to take just a few steps.

Brother likes having a brother. If Brother didn't like having a sibling to hang out with, he wouldn't have spent all that time and energy teaching Doodle to walk, run, climb trees, etc. Brother might complain a few times during the story about having Doodle with him, but Brother always takes Doodle with him. Lastly, the story is filled with more fun brother adventures than bad. Despite the story ending very sadly, it's clear that Brother loves Doodle very dearly.

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What are three traits each for Doodle and his brother in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

DOODLE

  • He is a dreamer.
    Doodle makes up crazy lies and plans to marry his Mama and live in Old Woman Swamp.
  • He is unusually small.
    He is "all head" with a "tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man's."
  • He crawled backwards when he was young.
    Doodle received his nickname because he crawled "as if he were in reverse" and would "back right up to you to be picked up."

BIG BROTHER

  • He was a "slave" to his pride.
    He taught Doodle to walk to satisfy his own wants and so that he wouldn't embarrass him in front of his friends.
  • He loved the water.
    The older brother loves to swim, row at Horsehead Landing, and play in Old Woman Swamp. 
  • He desperately needed a playmate.
    Although he knew it would put a strain on Doodle, he pushed him to swim, fight, run and row.
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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

One way that Doodle and the ibis are similar is that they both meet their tragic fates alone. Despite the time he spends helping his brother learn to walk and prepare for school, the narrator ultimately succumbs to his “streak of cruelty” and leaves Doodle behind in the storm. Similarly, the ibis is separated from its flock and meets its demise in an unlikely space. Even the narrator muses on the bird’s unusual fate:

How many miles had it traveled to die like this, in our yard, beneath the bleeding tree?

Similarly, Doodle works hard with his brother to improve his mobility and catch up to the other children’s development. Yet, when the storm poses a challenge that the boys did not anticipate, Doodle’s brother surpasses him simply because he can. The ibis’s fate represents the natural order in which some animals do not survive; however, Doodle’s thoughtfulness and compassion—shown throughout the story as he admires nature’s beauty, tags along with his moody brother, and volunteers to bury the ibis—is meant to remind the reader that humans can differ from this natural order in their behavior. While both Doodle and the ibis die alone in this story, their symbolic connection reminds the reader that humans are able to help one another when situations are complicated and that no one has to face their struggles alone.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Both the scarlet ibis and Doodle demonstrate great strength and tenacity. The bird has flown far from its origins in the tropics, perhaps driven by a need to explore more of the natural world than what exists near its home. Like the bird, Doodle is driven to explore nature despite his parents' early protests that he not exert himself too much. He and his brother thus spend much of their time in the "cool greenness of Old Woman Swamp." Both the bird and Doodle defy expectations, accomplishing greater physical feats than are expected of them.

Yet they also prove similar in their outcomes. Though the bird navigates itself all the way to North Carolina, the journey proves too much for its body. Exhausted from its effort, its wings hang loosely at its sides as it tries to maintain its position in the tree where Doodle finds it. Likewise, Doodle is unable to maintain a pace with his brother as they attempt to outrun the storm in the ending. When he gets out of the boat, the narrator notes that Doodle looks "tired" as he collapses into the mud. His fall is similar to the fall of the scarlet ibis, a final predictor that his physical struggles have become too much to bear.

Neither the scarlet ibis nor Doodle are well-suited for their environments. The bird has migrated beyond the realms of a habitat which is well-suited to supports its unique physical needs. Doodle has physical challenges which set him apart from the world around him. Though he attempts to be the brother the narrator wishes him to be, Doodle's physical challenges prove incompatible with that environment; he dies as his body succumbs to the environmental stresses which it is not capable of overcoming.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

In James Hurst's poignant story of two brothers who compete against time, there are similarities between Doodle and the scarlet ibis.

The brother is six years old when Doodle is born in a caul, an amniotic membrane that encloses his tiny body. It is a membrane not unlike the transparent protein membranes of a bird's egg from which the ibis emerges. Later in the narrative, when the scarlet ibis lands in the bleeding tree, he perches in a precarious position, trying to flutter his wings in an uncoordinated manner. Suddenly, he becomes unable to hold himself up, and the bird falls to the ground. In death, its legs are crossed and its thin feet curved.

After rowing their boat ashore against the tide, Doodle is unable to run as fast as his angry and disappointed brother who hurries ahead in a storm. Although he tries to keep up with his brother, much like the poor bird, Doodle collapses, with his knees drawn up to hold his head. When the angry brother calms himself and turns back for Doodle, he finds his brother in a similar position as the collapsed bird, and he knows Doodle is dead: 

He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained with a brilliant red.

The brother screams against the noise of the storm, throwing himself to the ground above Doodle. After lying there and crying for a long time, he gathers his brother in his arms.

I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain.

Both Doodle and the scarlet ibis are too delicate for worldly storms.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle and the Scarlet Ibis are similar in that both are rare and fragile beings.  Beautiful in their own way, yet oddly different and unusual.  The Ibis is red and in the end Doodle is left in a twisted pose similar to the Ibis and he, too, is red with blood.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

The bird and Doodie are both different.
They are both rare.
They are both out of place, and fighting environments that are hostile to them.
They both die.
Both are red (the bird is red; Doodie bleeds).
Doodie "floats" above the expectations of others as the bird flies over head.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle and his brother are both determined.

Doodle and his brother are alike in that they do not give up.  When Doodle was born, everyone was sure he would die.  He was so small and sickly that they built a coffin for him.  Yet Doodle made it.  He lived, and everything was a struggle.  Still, he began to do more and more things regular kids could do.

Brother was also very dedicated.  He was bound and determined to teach Doodle to walk, even though everyone was sure that it was not possible.  Brother and Doodle did not give up. Just as Doodle taught himself to crawl, crawling backward but still crawling, Brother taught Doodle to walk. Neither of them gave in, ever.

Doodle is afraid to learn to walk at first.  Everyone has told him he can’t, and he asks his brother not to hurt him.  However, Doodle’s brother is convinced that with enough hard work they can beat the odds again.

It seemed so hopeless from the beginning that it's a miracle I didn't give up. But all of us must have something or someone to be proud of, and Doodle had become mine. I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.

Walking is a monumental struggle for Doodle.  At first all he can do is stand, and then he can take a few steps.  The two boys work on it very hard, pushing and pushing past what seems like the limits of endurance.

Doodle does learn to walk, shocking his parents.  The two boys keep Doodle’s walking a surprise, and on his sixth birthday they reveal it to the family members.  

Unfortunately, Doodle’s brother pushes him too far.  He doesn’t just want him to walk.  Doodle wants a brother who can run and jump and do the things normal kids do.  Doodle tries, but he is too weak and he dies.  His brother feels terrible, realizing that he seems to be the reason for his brother’s early death.  Sometimes pushing too hard is not a good thing.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Both Doodle and the Ibis are out of place. Doodle's family recognizes his vulnerability and therefore they treat him as if he could die at any moment. They care for him but regard him as somewhat of an outcast. This only begins to change when he starts to exhibit more "normal" behavior. They keep him segregated in the front bedroom. When he learns to walk, they bring him into the living room and this is when he finally "became one of us." Likewise, the ibis is an outcast. Father supposes that a storm blew the ibis off course from the south. It is in an environment it is not used to and doesn't know how to appropriately adapt. 

The main similarity between Doodle and the ibis is vulnerability. Damaged from the storm, the bird's wings don't work properly. It should be able to fly down from the tree but it tumbles awkwardly and falls to its death. Doodle is also saddled with a body that doesn't work as well as Brother's does. He tries to run and do all the things Brother can do, but his frail and vulnerable body can not keep up. 

Doodle recognizes how he and the ibis are both vulnerable and out of place. He sees the bird struggle to survive only to awkwardly fail. Doodle struggles to live up to Brother's concept of a "normal" brother. Doodle is so affected by the ibis's death that he won't eat dinner and he insists on burying the ibis himself. When he comes in from burying the ibis, he is "pale," the color and (symbolically) the life drained from his face. Perhaps the ibis's death reminds him of his own little coffin and his own mortality. 

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

The scarlet ibis of the story's title is a magnificent bird that makes an all-too-brief appearance in the Armstrongs' backyard. With its bright red feathers, the ibis clearly hails from more tropical climes. Unfortunately, the bird is also injured, and it isn't very long before it dies. Even so, in the short time that the Armstrongs saw it, it stood out magnificently among the trees.

Doodle also stands out from the crowd, albeit for radically different reasons. A young boy with disabilities, he's not like anyone else in his family or anyone else around him. Unfortunately, poor young Doodle dies, just like the scarlet ibis. As he lies dead, the blood running from his mouth conjures up the image of the injured bird as it spent its last moments on earth in the Armstrongs' tree.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Neither the Scarlet Ibis nor Doodle are usual or regular. They both are "abnormal" in some way -- Doodle, due to the perception of his disability by others, and the ibis, due to its alien nature.

The lives of each parallel one another throughout the story, and as it draws to a close, both the ibis and Doodle die, nearly moments apart from each other.

The ibis's beauty is a metaphor for the life and existence of Doodle; despite his condition, he is seen as a beautiful individual. His brother's resentment becomes a factor in this story, as well.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

I think a good a place to start comparing and contrasting the scarlet ibis and Doodle is their physical abilities. Both Doodle and the scarlet ibis are physically limited. We are told that the family sees that something just isn't quite right about how the bird is moving in the tree.

At that moment the bird began to flutter, but the wings were uncoordinated, and amid much flapping and a spray of flying feathers . . .

The bird appears to be uncoordinated in its movements, and the description of its movements and death is quite sad. Soon after, Doodle attempts to bury the bird, and his movements are also described as awkward.

Now we were watching him through the front window, but he didn't know it. His awkwardness at digging the hole with a shovel whose handle was twice as long as he was made us laugh . . .

Doodle and the bird might be comparable in how their movements are limited and awkward; however, a difference also exists in those movements. The scarlet ibis is awkward in its movements because it is injured. The bird has likely been injured in the storm that brought it to Doodle's house. On the other hand, Doodle's limitations are not caused by an injury that he received. Doodle's awkwardness and physical limitations are a result of genetics. He was born the way that he is, and he is able to do much of what he can do because of Brother's hard work.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the bird in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle and the scarlet ibis are both out of their elements: Doodle, who has a bad heart and mental limitations, is being forced by his brother to do the things that healthy children do in order to make him seem more normal. The ibis, too, is out-of-place on the family property: The bird has been lost in a storm and is hundreds of miles from its normal, tropical setting. They are both endangered species, and Doodle recognizes that the weakened, sick bird is not unlike himself. He is immediately attracted to the winged bird, which Doodle probably associates with angels. Later, the bird's color will also come to symbolize the bloodied Doodle's body. Meanwhile, the beautiful bird dies in the presence of its admirers, and Doodle buries it with ceremony; his own death comes alone--muddied, bloodied and rain-soaked--left behind by his older brother at a time when he most needs him.

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How did Doodle and the bird die similarly in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

In James Hurst's short story "The Scarlet Ibis," the bird's death foreshadows Doodle's death, and there are many parallels in the way that each of them dies.

The Scarlet Ibis was an exotic bird that wasn't normally seen around the area in which Doodle's family lived. The bird appeared in the bleeding tree (named for the color of its sap) one day. The father surmised it must have been blown in by a storm. The fact that the bird is battered and dies in a storm is similar to Doodle's death, which occurs when he tries to keep up with his brother, who is trying to run home during a storm.

Another similarity between Doodle and the bird is their awkwardness. The bird dies with its legs at odd angles, and its neck twisted into an "s" shape. This mirrors Doodle's physical awkwardness. The line that reads "even death did not mar its grace" is reminiscent of the grace and beauty of Doodle's heart, as we see in his unquestioning love for his brother and other family members.

At that moment the bird began to flutter, but the wings were uncoordinated, and amid much flapping and a spray of flying feathers, it tumbled down, bumping through the limbs of the bleeding tree and landing at our feet with a thud. Its long, graceful neck jerked twice into an S, then straightened out, and the bird was still. A white veil came over the eyes and the long white beak unhinged. Its legs were crossed and its clawlike feet were delicately curved at rest. Even death did not mar its grace, for it lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers, and we stood around it, awed by its exotic beauty.

Another similarity between the deaths is that when Doodle dies, Brother finds him with a red blood stain down his chest. This is a reference to the red color of the exotic bird, and also calls to mind the bleeding tree in which the bird landed.

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How did Doodle and the bird die similarly in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Both Doodle and the bird died from exhaustion. Doodle's father says the bird probably was carried by a storm and when the family sees the bird, it is bloodied and battered from its fight to stay alive in the storm. It is far away from home and the struggle has been too much for the bird to survive. Doodle dies when he trying not to be left behind by Brother, who is purposely going too fast for Doodle to keep up. The struggle to keep up with Brother is too much for Doodles' fragile heart and he dies. Thus, both Doodle and the bird were away from home, struggling against forces that were too strong for them when their bodies gave out.

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How did Doodle and the bird die similarly in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle died when his brother pushed him too far physically.

When the narrator’s little brother is born, he is very disappointed.  He wanted a brother who could run and jump and be normal, but Doodle is so weak and crippled that everyone is sure he is going to die.  He doesn’t die, but he is slow to mature.

The narrator does his best to make his brother normal.  He teaches him to walk when he is five years old, because he is embarrassed to have a brother who does not walk.  By his sixth birthday, Doodle is walking.

It seemed so hopeless from the beginning that it's a miracle I didn't give up. But all of us must have something or someone to be proud of, and Doodle had become mine. I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.

The same thing happens when Doodle’s brother decides that he wants to run and play with his brother.  He thinks that he needs to do the same thing, and teach his brother how to run.  When he pushed before, he was successful.  He feels that Doodle will be okay.

Unfortunately, Doodle’s brother pushes too hard this time.  Doodle tries to do what his brother wants.  He pushes himself as his brother pushes.  Unfortunately, he pushes so hard that his body gives out and he dies.

He didn't answer, so I placed my hand on his forehead and lifted his head. Limply, he fell backwards onto the earth. He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained a brilliant red.

Doodle’s brother does not intend to kill him, of course.  He was trying to help him in his own way.  His comment about pride was reflective of this incident.  He wanted so badly to make his brother normal that he pushed him beyond the limits.

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How did Doodle and the bird die similarly in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Doodle is born physically challenged. At first the family, except for Aunt Nicey, is certain he will die. They are so certain that they have a coffin built. Amazingly, he survives and becomes the constant companion of his older brother. He doesn't learn how to walk until he is five years old and even that is difficult and takes a great deal of strain. Doodle's brother, who acts as the narrator of the story, teaches him to walk and wants the boy to progress into running, swimming and boxing. The brother devises a training regiment for Doodle, who will soon be starting school, so that he will be the equal of other boys. The brother admits he drives Doodle out of pride and doesn't want to be embarrassed by a crippled brother.

The ibis, which is a symbol for Doodle, dies from exertion after traveling a great distance in turbulent weather. Doodle also dies after attempting to keep up with his brother in a driving rainstorm. The brother is twice the age of Doodle and bolts away from him after realizing Doodle's physical training has not yielded the results he expected. In a fit of prideful anger the brother distances himself from Doodle. When his anger fades he goes back to discover Doodle dead under a red night shade bush. Doodle has been bleeding from the mouth which means an internal injury. Obviously the strain of chasing his brother caused a fatal event in the already weak and fragile body of the boy. 

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How are Doodle and his brother's traits similar and different in The Scarlet Ibis?

Doodle and his older brother are very much alike in the face of a challenge. The older brother takes on the challenge of teaching Doodle to walk. He has a tenacious attitude. He is determined that he will teach Doodle to walk. He is embarrassed by his handicapped brother:

Driven by shame at having a crippled sibling, Brother forms a plan to secretly teach Doodle to walk. Eventually, he succeeds. This initial success is not, however, enough for Brother, who is determined that Doodle will not shame him by being seen as different when he starts school.

Doodle is like his brother in his tenacity. Doodle is determined he will make his brother proud of him. He repeatedly tries to walk. Every time he falls down, he gets right back up. He will prove himself strong in spite of his handicap. In the face of a great challenge, he is triumphant. He is victorious. He learns to walk and run because he refuses to give up.

Doodle and his older brother are alike in their determination. They both prove themselves triumphant. In the face of obstacles, they refuse to be discouraged. They contribute great strength and their efforts prove successful.

Doodle and his older brother differ in their reasons for confronting the challenge of Doodle learning to walk. The older brother is embarrassed of Doodle's handicap. He does not desire for Doodle to begin school handicapped. He pushes Doodle to walk so he will not have to face the children at school with a handicapped brother. His desire for Doodle to walk is motivated by his selfish image that he must protect.

Doodle is different than his older brother. He desires to walk to please his brother. He admires his older brother. He reveres his older brother. Doodle will walk to make his older brother happy. More than any thing, Doodle wants his older brother to be proud of him.

Even though both brothers share a common goal which is teaching Doodle to walk, they differ in their motivation to reach that goal. The older brother is selfish and ashamed of his handicapped brother. Doodle is selfless and so proud of his older brother. He idolizes his older brother. The older brother finds Doodle as a burden, one that he must deal with every day of his life. Doodle just wants to be with his older brother out of respect and devotion.

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What are ten characteristics of Doodle and his brother, and five of the ibis in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

James Hurst's short story "The Scarlet Ibis" is about two brothers growing up in coastal North Carolina in the first part of the 20th century. The narrator, who is never named, is six years older than his brother Doodle. Doodle is born with physical problems and at first the family believes he may die. Although he doesn't, he is physically challenged and doesn't learn to walk until he is five. The ibis, which dies in the family's front yard after a bad storm, is a symbol for Doodle and has some of the same characteristics. 

The narrator could be considered active because he is a young boy who loves more than anything to run, swim and box. He's adventurous as he loves to explore the swamps around the family farm. He's confident in himself and, despite serious obstacles, is able to teach Doodle how to walk. He is at first independent and doesn't like taking Doodle with him on his adventures. He could definitely be considered masculine and he often clashes with his more sensitive brother. He's also sometimes mean and cruel:

There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction, and at times I was mean to Doodle. 

He is prideful and cannot accept that his brother will be different and maybe even laughed at by other boys at school. So, he is determined to make Doodle as physically fit as he is. He is also impulsive as he lets his pride get the best of him when he runs away from Doodle in the rainstorm. In the end, the reader may also assume that the narrator is loving and ultimately regretful at losing Doodle. 

Doodle's chief characteristics include sensitivity and fragility. He is physically challenged and often not able to keep up with his brother. He is sensitive about things, as when his brother shows him his coffin. He could be considered submissive to his brother and wants, more than anything, to please him.

Doodle also shows a very imaginative mind. He makes up fantasy stories. Within these stories he displays a wishful mentality. While, he is barely able to walk, the heroes in his stories can fly. This wishful thinking might also show a level of optimism on Doodle's part. He is extremely caring and devoted to his brother. He shows these same traits when he buries the dead ibis and sings a hymn at the bird's grave. Doodle is ultimately out of place. He does not fit into the hard, active world of his brother. He is too soft and fragile. It's not surprising that the rare and fragile ibis is a symbol for the boy.

The ibis is, above all, beautiful and delicate with its scarlet feathers and long neck. The narrator describes the bird:

Its long, graceful neck jerked twice into an S, then straightened out, and the bird was still. A white veil came over the eyes and the long white beak unhinged. Its legs were crossed and its clawlike feet were delicately curved at rest. Even death did not mar its grace, for it lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers, and we stood around it, awed by its exotic beauty.

The bird is rare in this part of North Carolina, having traveled many miles from its home in the tropics. Like Doodle, it is out of place in an environment it is not used to. Also, like Doodle, it is fragile. It cannot handle its long, physically taxing journey and dies not soon after it's discovered in the bleeding tree. Doodle, of course, also dies after pushing his body to the limit chasing his brother in the rainstorm.

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What are the similarities between Doodle and the scarlet ibis?

In James Hurst's heart-rending short story, there are several similarities between Doodle and the scarlet ibis. 

Like the scarlet ibis, when Doodle is born he is out-of-the-ordinary. He is exceptionally frail and "shriveled like an old man." Also, he enters the world in a caul, an amniotic membrane that encloses his tiny body from which he must be removed. Although the scarlet ibis hatches from an egg formed from calcium, he, too, must emerge from his cover as a very delicate creature.

Also, like the scarlet ibis, Doodle seems to be in an environment not suited for him. When his brother tries to make Doodle do things that others can do, Doodle does succeed in walking and swimming. But when he is forced to row against waves, Doodle's weak heart is strained. Then, after the boys pull the boat onto the shore, Doodle tries to keep up with his angered brother who runs ahead of him. Like the scarlet ibis who cannot withstand the storm winds and 

...tumbled down, bumping through the limbs of the bleeding tree and landing...with a thud....its legs were crossed and its claw-like feet were delicately curved at rest... [as] it lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers....

Doodle also collapses, huddled under a red bush on the side of the road. He seems to be sitting with his face resting upon his folded arms, not unlike the crossed legs of the bird. When his brother turns back to find Doodle, the small boy again resembles the delicate scarlet ibis:

He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained with a brilliant red.

The brother, who acts as narrator, calls Doodle's name, weeping and "sheltering [his] fallen scarlet ibis" from what he thinks is the mockery of the rain. 

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