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Imagery and Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis

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by

Ellen Cavanaugh

on 14 November 2012

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Transcript of Imagery and Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis Imagery Symbolism Beginning: William Armstrong "He may never be all there." “Summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born…” “…the ibis lit in the bleeding tree.” “The flower garden was stained with
rotting brown magnolia petals…” “The last graveyard flowers were blooming,
and their smell drifted across the cotton field…speaking softly the names of our dead.” “…and now if an oriole sings in the elm, its song seems to die up in the leaves, a silvery dust.” “He seemed all head, with a tiny body
which was red and shriveled like an old man’s.” “The named him William Armstrong…Such
a name sounds good only on a tombstone.” “…we called him William Armstrong, even though it was formal and sounded as if we were referring to one of our ancestors.” Middle: Doodle "He's all there!!" “…I pulled the go-cart through the sawtooth fern, down into the green dimness where the palmetto fronds whispered by the stream.” “I would gather wildflowers, wild violets, honeysuckle, yellow jasmine, snakeflowers, and waterlilies…” “…when the slanted rays of the sun burned orange in the tops of the pines…” “Hope no longer hid in the dark palmetto thicket but perched like a cardinal in the lacy toothbrush tree, brilliantly visible.” (319) “…the grass beneath us was soft and the smell of the swamp was sweet.” (319) End: Doodle Deceased "My fallen scarlet ibis..." “The sun, gilded with the yellow cast of autumn, still burned fiercely, but the dark green woods through which we passed were shady and cool.” (322) “Black clouds began to gather in the southwest…” (322) “…lightning was playing across half the sky and thunder roared out, hiding even the sound of the sea. The sun disappeared and darkness descended, almost like night.” “The rain was coming, roaring through the pines, and then, like a bursting Roman candle, a gum tree ahead of us was shattered by a bolt of lightning.” “The sound of rain was everywhere, but the wind had died and it fell straight down in parallel paths like ropes hanging from the sky.” (323) “I found him huddled beneath a red nightshade bush..He was sitting on the ground, his face buried in his arms, which were resting on his drawn-up knees.” (323) “Limply, he fell backward onto the earth. He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained a brilliant red…He lay 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.” (323) The Peacock “When Peter was ready to go to sleep, the peacock spread his magnificent tail, enfolding the boy gently like a closing go-to-sleep flower, burying him in the gloriously iridescent, rustling vortex.” “When he fell, I grabbed him in my arms and hugged him, our laughter pealing through the swamp like a ringing bell.” (319) Seasons “That winter we didn’t make much progress, for I was in school and Doodle suffered from one bad cold after another.” “But when spring came, rich and warm, we raised our sights again." “Sometimes we descended into the cool greenness of Old Woman Swamp…Promise hung about us like leaves, and wherever we looked, ferns unfurled and birds broke into song.” (320) Storms “…a hurricane…splitting the limbs of the elm trees…it roared back out…blew the fallen oaks around, snapping their roots and tearing them like a hawk at the entrails of a chicken…” (320) Scarlet Ibis “…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…” (321) “Limply, he fell backward onto the earth. He had been bleeding from the mouth, and his neck and the front of his shirt were stained a brilliant red…He lay 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.” (323) “I found him huddled beneath a red nightshade bush..He was sitting on the ground, his face buried in his arms, which were resting on his drawn-up knees.” (323)
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