Literary Analysis: The Scarlet Ibis
Why do we hurt the ones we love? This question is examined in the short story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst. In the story, the narrator recounts past occurrences with Doodle, his younger brother. Due to Doodle being a sickly child, he was unable to do many things most normal kids his age could do. The narrator became ashamed of his brother and tried to resolve the problem by pushing Doodle past his limits. The narrator’s pride and selfish intentions eventually bring about the ultimate death of Doodle, showing that selfish pride generally causes more harm than good. By analyzing the story, it is easy to see that the theme that “spiteful cruelty toward a loved one often stems from wounded pride” is revealed …show more content…
It is true that Doodle learned how to walk because of the narrator’s constant attempts. James Hurst writes, “Finally one day, after many weeks of practicing, he stood alone for a few seconds, I grabbed him in my arms and hugged him . . .” (467) The narrator’s efforts in getting Doodle to walk were met with success and an outpouring of emotions from his Daddy, Mama and Aunt.
However, the root of the narrator’s action came from the embarrassment of Doodle not being able to walk at the age of five. “They did not know that I did it for myself; that pride, whose slave I was, spoke to me louder than all their voices, and that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother” (Hurst 468). The narrator was ashamed of his brother who couldn’t do what others around him could. The narrator’s motivation was his selfish pride and shame.
The narrator was at times brutal to Doodle because of the embarrassment and shame that blinded him to Doodle’s limitations which led to the dire consequences that arose due to his thoughtless actions. His love for Doodle was overridden by his selfish pride and thus cruelty was born. In the story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst, the theme that “spiteful cruelty toward a loved one often stems from wounded pride” is revealed through the narrator and the cruelty he exhibited towards Doodle in moments of anger and
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Doodle decided, whether out of loyalty or personal aspirations, to force himself to learn how to do what his brother could actively do. Furthermore, critics of the brother, will state that Doodle’s death was caused by the narrator abandoning Doodle in the storm. At first glance, one would agree with the above statement. Nevertheless, one must take into consideration the fact that the narrator is a young boy who is still coming to terms with his brother’s invalidity. He is still not able to decipher Doodle’s special needs.
In the short story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst, there are many kind and helpful actions done, but the torturous ones that Doodle’s older brother plans and executes surpass them all. For example, Brother starts to realize his feelings for Doodle soon after he is born and decides “ to kill him by smothering him with a pillow” (175). Not only is this cruel, but it is horrible to think that someone would want to harm a relative in that way. Being so young also means that Doodle would not be able to do anything to defend his life. In addition, the narrator pushes his brother’s physical abilities by making him swim until he appeared blue, row more than his muscles could manage, and walk faster than recommended (180).
Shame is a powerful emotion that leads people to do things absentmindedly, that could lead to dreadful outcomes. In James Hurst’s “The Scarlet Ibis” Doodle is a disabled child that can not do things that others can do easily. Brother tries to shape Doodle into a regular kid, which ends badly. When Doodle doesn't improve at as fast as his brother wants him to, he only pushes him harder. Brothers sense of shame leads to Doodle being pushed too hard and eventually dying.
“The Scarlet Ibis” is a short story by James Hurst about a physically disabled child and the guidance of his brother, the narrator. The narrator shows the “knot of cruelty” through the love of his brother. By forcing Doodle to touch his coffin, the narrator indicates to Doodle that he will always be on the brink of death and may never be able to lead a normal life. The narrator is aware that Doodle would be intimidated by this fact, but because of his cruelty, he continues to make him touch the coffin. As predicted, Doodle is indeed afraid and clings on to his brother, repeatedly crying, “Don’t leave me”.
“He was born when I was six, from the outset, a disappointment”. (Hurst, 350) from the moment Doodle was born he was viewed as not good enough for the narrator. The narrator had longings of what a brother would be like, when his new brother was physically incapable to live up to his desire he tried to change him out of pridefulness. Embarrassment and pride were the only reasons that Doodle was taught to walk, not because the narrator thought he was able. “Shut up, I’m not going to hurt you, I’m going to teach you to walk” (Hurst, 354) Doodle’s disability was not something he could ‘fix’, and on account of his brothers ego, Doodle was pushed too far, thus ultimately he could be pushed no
On page 347 the brother admits his guilt, “’What are you crying for?’ asked Daddy, but I couldn’t answer. They did not know that I did it for myself, that pride, whose slave I was, spoke to me louder than all their voices, and that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother.” As you can see, the brother not only avoided the doctor’s directions of no walking because Doodle is special, but only taught him for the plain reason of being ashamed of a disabled sibling. This harmful pride doesn’t stop there.
Thesis Statement Despite the fact that pride is considered an incredible feeling of motivation and happiness, the author James Hurst through his characters, Doodle and the older brother, in his story, “The Scarlet Ibis,” proves ,it is in fact, a masked detrimental and beneficial feeling of selfishness and guilt. II. First Thesis Point- Topic
Due to his hurtful actions, inflicted upon Doodle throughout his life, the Narrator feels deep shame for what he has caused. Through the elements of foreshadowing and dialogue, Hurst’s narration reveals the protagonist’s guilt, emphasizing his deep regret over his actions regarding his crippled brother. The Narrator foreshadows the eventual climax of the story through his words regarding his views of pride. He states, “But all of us must have something to be proud of, and Doodle had become mine.
In a person’s life, many situations transpire and make them feel pride over one’s self. Readers can see this in the short story,” The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst. “In his spare time Hurst wrote short stories and plays, but The Scarlet Ibis was the only work of his that become famous “(gradesaver.com)”. In the short story, “The Scarlet Ibis” James Hurst uses red to symbolize warning, death, and guilt to show the change the older brother goes through, as he takes care of Doodle. The first instance when red is used, is to express warning and the older brother’s attitude, is at Doodle’s birth.
Here is my evidence. First reason the narrator is guilty of Doodle’s death is because he was ashamed of him. This is clearly shown when brother makes the statement on page 347 “I was ashamed of having a crippled brother.” This clearly shows the narrator's shame in Doodle. Another statement
The narrator’s pride wants Doodle to be an ordinary brother, and kills him in the strive for perfection. “For a long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis,” the narrator reveals (426). For the first time, the narrator notices the connection between the scarlet ibis and Doodle. When Doodle dies, his neck is twisted identical to the scarlet ibis’ neck as it dies under the bleeding tree, along with the fact that they are both weak and fragile. The scarlet ibis and Doodle has come a long way, dodging many obstacles and achieving many goals, but in the end, both fall short of
"Doodle!" I screamed above the pounding storm and threw my body to the earth above his. For a long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain”(Hurst 6).This section shows from the end of Doodle’s life onward Brother has felt guilty. The whole story is Brothers story of the dangers of pride and his personal experience.
The Complex Relationship between Brother and Doodle Pride, will always be the longest distance between two people, the reason of betrayal, and even death. In the Scarlet Ibis, James Hurst describes Brother as a slave of pride unable to establish a real relationship with Doodle. The Scarlet Ibis, narrates the complex relationship between the narrator and his physically ill brother Doodle. Pride always invades the weak bond between the two brothers and leads them to a tragic end.
The Selfish Narrator In “The Scarlet Ibis,” Hurst demonstrates excessive pride can lead to a selfish personality by the attitude the narrator takes to his brother, Doodle. When Doodle first walks in front of their family, the narrator feels this emotional thought that “the pride, whose slave I am, which speak louder than all other voices, and that Doodle walked only because” of the selfishness that he has inside of him(9). The narrator knew the selfishness in him which motivates him to keep going, even though he knows it isn’t the right choice. The narrator uses the word “slave”, as if he was trapped in selfishness, only listening to his voice “ which speak louder than all other voices”.
Characterization Essay Sometimes in life people are not the luckiest at birth. The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst is a story about a boy who learns to walk. Doodle displayed determination and that he could work hard. Doodle is very determined to learn and be able to walk.