illustration of a scarlet ibis cradling a boy's body

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

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Topics for Further Study

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  • In "The Scarlet Ibis," Hurst uses natural elements of the setting to comment on the action or the characters. These include plants, birds, insects, and weather phenomena. Make a list of some of these natural elements and write a paragraph on each, explaining how they comment on the action or the characters. Where appropriate, research the habits, habitat, behavior, appearance, symbolic value or other aspects of each natural element and use your findings to elucidate your answers.
  • Research the lives of two disabled people: one who is alive today, and one from history (born at any time before 1920). Write an essay on the lives and achievements of each. Include in your composition the following: the problems they faced and how they responded; society's and their family's attitudes to, and treatment of, them; and how the life and achievements of each may have been affected if they had been born in the other's time period.
  • Write a short story in which the main character has a disability, or imagine that you have a particular disability and write a "day-in-the-life" diary entry. If you have a disability in real life, choose a different disability for this exercise. Take into account in your story or diary entry how your disability will affect your feelings, actions, perceptions, relationships and choices.
  • Research the history of eugenics from its scientific beginnings in the nineteenth century to the present day, considering aspects such as selective breeding, enforced sterilization, human genetic engineering, and the use of eugenics to justify genocide. Write a report giving some arguments that have been made for and against each of these aspects of eugenics. Bear in mind that different sectors of society, such as disabled people, scientists, doctors, the non-disabled population and governments may well have different views, so try to gather your arguments from a variety of sources to reflect the full range of opinion. In each section, give your own view based on what you have learned.
  • Research the experiences of a person who participated in World War I. This could be a person in active military service, or a nurse, journalist, ambulance driver, etc. Imagining that you are that person, write a letter to your family at home telling them about some of your recent experiences and your reflections on them.

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