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The Scarlet Ibis

Literary Analysis
by

Kim Alexis

on 2 October 2013

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Transcript of The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis
By: James Hurst
A Literary Analysis by
Kim Adversario
Key Words and Phrases
"Daddy had Mr. Heath, the carpenter, build a little mahogany coffin for him. But he didn't die, and when he was three months old, Mama and Daddy decided they might as well name him." page 1
This phrase shows how even Doodle's parents did not expect much of him. It shows the theme of disfavor towards Doodle. The fact that Doodle's father had already created a coffin for him, shows how from the start, he was not wanted or the family had no hope for him.
"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." page 2
"Finally one day, after many weeks of practicing, he stood alone for a few seconds. When he fell, I grabbed him in my arms and hugged him, our laughter pealing through the swamp like a ringing bell.'"page 3
Literary Devices
"But sometimes (like right now), as I sit in the cool, green-draped parlor, the grindstone begins to turn, and time with all its changes is ground away- and I remember Doodle." page 1
The literary element used here is a flashback. By using this thought from the narrator, it pushes the story along, using the flashback as a transition from the description of the setting into the events. The citation shows how the narrator remembers Doodle because of the way the scenery is and the time of year. It shows that the narrator has some emotion towards Doodle. Readers are able to identify that maybe Doodle was very significant to the narrator because of how he remembers him.
"When Doodle was five years old, I was embarrassed at having a brother that age who couldn't walk, so I set out to teach him." page 2
The literary devices used here is motivation. Due to Doodle's lack of skill to walk, the narrator wants to teach him. The fact that Doodle cannot walk, gives the narrator the goal to help him. He didn't want to help him because he felt bad or because he was his brother, but he did it because he was embarrassed of him. This shows how much the narrator cares for Doodle and how much he actually loves him. Readers can start to understand how there isn't really much care for Doodle from the narrator. All the effort towards Doodle is because the narrator is selfish and cares about his reputation.
"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." page 5
The literary device used here is imagery. The author uses a simile to show how the scarlet ibis looked like after its fall from the tree. It seems as if Hurst is trying portray that death can sometimes be beautiful, as in it is not always so horrible and sad. The citation foreshadows the ending since Doodle dies and when he does, he is compared to the scarlet ibis.
This phrase shows why the narrator was mean to Doodle. The narrator feels guilty for being that way to Doodle and admits to treating him wrongly. By saying that his "knot of cruelty [was] borne by the stream of love.." shows that because he was so close with Doodle, he might have confused his feelings towards him. The narrator was also jealous of how he was still alive and there was a lot of attention towards him. There was also so much anger towards Doodle because he couldn't be alone since everywhere he went he had to take his brother with him.
Intertexual Connections
Questions
"The knowledge that Doodle's and my plans had come to naught was bitter, and that streak of cruelty within me awakened." page 6
Why would the narrator care so much about Doodle not being able to finish his rowing? Shouldn't he have been happy that Doodle at least tried? Or shouldn't he have made better more approachable goals for Doodle?
"My lies were scary, involved, and usually pointless, but Doodle's were twice as crazy." page 3
Why does the author call the stories lies? Is it because it shows the imagination of Doodle, showing his childishness and innocence? Or was it because there was an inner meaning with Doodle's favorite lie?
" 'Aw, come on, Doodle,' I urged. 'you can do it. Do you want to be different from everybody else when you start school?'
'Does it make any difference?' " page 4
Is the dialogue trying to show that Doodle is okay with how he is? Or is it showing that Doodle accepts that he's different and won't mind if he gets bullied or picked on?
Personal Reactions
"They named him William Armstrong, which is like tying a big tail on a small kite. Such a name sounds good only on a tombstone." page 1
When I first read this sentence, I was absolutely shocked because how could someone just say that about their sibling? The fact that Doodle's parents were mean to their somewhat disabled son is horrific. Sure there wasn't really any abuse from the parents, but they just expected Doodle to die. They didn't even have hope for him to live whatsoever. I just thought it was horrible that Doodle's family just treated him as he were dead before he even got the chance to truly live.
"Crawling backward made him look like a doodlebug, so I began to call him Doodle, and in time even Mama and Daddy thought it was a better name than name than William Armstrong...Renaming my brother was perhaps the kindest thing I ever did for him, because nobody expects much from someone called Doodle." page 2
Same as the last citation, this talks about Doodle's name and its meaning. It shows that his family doesn't really care for him as much as they should. Doodle's parents even agree with the narrator with the name Doodle. That would be treated usually as an insult because of why they kept calling him that. Saying that "nobody expects much from someone called Doodle" means that they know Doodle can't do anything and they're just going to deal with it. I think that this is horrible.
Contexual Information
"And during that summer, strange names were heard through the house: Chateau-Thierry, Amiens, Soissons, and in her blessing at the supper table Mama once said, 'And bless the Pearsons, whose boy Joe was lost at Belleeau Wood.' " page 4
This citation lists the many different battles of World War I. This shows the setting of the story since the time period is during WWI, which was 1914 to 1919. It explains why the characters act and talk differently than we do now.
"Of course, he wasn't crazy crazy like old Miss Leedie, who was in love with President Wilson and wrote him a letter everyday..." page 1
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States. He served for two terms, 1913 to 1921. This also helps the readers to understand what the time period of the story is. With this understanding we can make sense of the ways the characters in the story do things. Such as the style of clothes and different terms for things.
"Doodle studied the mahogany box for a long time, then said, 'It's not mine.'
'It is,' I said. 'And before I'll help you down from the loft, you're going to have to touch it.' " page2
Out of all the events that are in the story, this one surprises me the most. The narrator made his own brother, touch the coffin that was supposed to be his. That is probably one of the most horrifying acts you can do to your own sibling. It shows that he really didn't care for Doodle's feelings at all. The narrator also made him feel unwanted and know that his family didn't have any hope for him when he was a baby.
Forrest Gump and The Scarlet Ibis
I think that the movie Forrest Gump relates to this story pretty well. Both Forrest and Doodle are somewhat different to those around them. Forrest had scoliosis which is a condition that does not allow him to move properly because of an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. Doodle also had a condition which did not allow him to do many things regular kids could. He had a heart problem that didn't allow him to exert himself as much. Both characters had people around them who were not understanding of them. They didn't treat them the way they should have because of their conditions. Sure they overcame some of the problems, (Forrest Gump when he ran without his braces and Doodle when he stood and walked by himself) but there were still people around them who were unfair.
Synthesis
The Fault in Our Stars and The Scarlet Ibis
I think that The Fault in Our Stars is similar to The Scarlet Ibis due to the tragic endings that both stories involve. In both books, one of the main character dies once both main characters get close. For example, in the Scarlet Ibis, Doodle dies after the brother starts to get really close to him. The narrator in the Scarlet Ibis realizes how much he actually loves and cares for Doodle once he died. The Fault in Our Stars was a little different in how the two main characters interacted. Hazel and Augustus were good friends and had a nice relationship where they both supported each other. Though, once they were at the zenith of their relationship, Augustus dies leaving Hazel in tears. Augustus leaves Hazel a letter that showed her how much he loved her. It also opened up her eyes as to how much she really liked Augustus and how much she would really miss him. Both stories are sad and leave one of the main characters in depression as when the other character dies.
Charlie St. Cloud and The Scarlet Ibis
The film Charlie St. Cloud is very similar to The Scarlet Ibis because of the brotherhood the narrators have with their younger sibling. Both of the older brothers had good times that allowed them to be close with their kid brother. Sam and Charlie (from Charlie St. Cloud) had baseball to turn to since both really liked the sport. Their father was also not with them and their mother would always had to work extra shifts, which meant Charlie had to look after Sam. The narrator and Doodle were close only because of Doodle's condition and want to be with his older brother. Doodle and Sam both died at some point in the plot when they were with their older brother. Both the narrator of The Scarlet Ibis and Charlie from Charlie St. Cloud felt guilty for their brother's death. The narrator felt guilty because he was the one who made Doodle exert a lot of energy when he knew he wasn't capable of it. Charlie on the other hand, was driving when him and Sam were in the car accident which killed his brother. Both older brothers felt guilty of what happened to their younger brother.
I find that the Scarlet Ibis is a moral that interprets how pride can blind you and make you insensitive to others. The plot shows the readers not to push things too hard and to know the limit of others and yourself. The themes of the story coordinated with the way life is, especially with our family or friends. We can be jealous and infuriated at other people even if we may love them and really care for them, but there are also moments where we can be incredibly happy and feel united with each other.
The significance of this citation is that the two brothers had finally bonded. They are both happy at the fact that Doodle was able to stand by himself for a short moment. The way they laughed and hugged contributes to the theme at this moment of accomplishment or brotherhood.
Rejection
Regret
Family
This story shows that you just have to see past any negative things you think about a person and love them for who they are. The Scarlet Ibis shows how by taking the time to really get to know someone and not being quick to judge, you can learn to really appreciate them. At the end when Doodle dies and the narrator starts to mourn and even in the beginning when he is reminiscing, shows that we have to accept what we have now so we don't have to regret changing something. Such as the old saying, "You don't know what you have until it's gone".
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