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Literary analysis of "The Scarlet Ibis"

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on 4 October 2013

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Transcript of Literary analysis of "The Scarlet Ibis"

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Literary Analysis of "The Scarlet Ibis"
Literary Devices:
Contextual Information
To begin, and to understand the story a little better, we need to be able to understand the little overlooked details of the story. In fact, contextual information can be defined as "information we know that is relevant to an understanding of the text: The identity of things named in the text: people, places, books, etc"
Intertextual Connections
"Renaming my brother was perhaps the kindest thing I ever did for him, because nobody expects much from someone called Doodle."
By: Megan Ruff
"The Scarlet Ibis" was written by James Hurst ad was published in 1960 and takes place around the time period of World War I. Along with that, the setting is Raleigh, North Carolina. These points are important to piece the story together.
Key Words and Phrases
A literary technique, literary method, literary device, or literary motif is an identifiable rule of thumb, convention or structure that is employed in literature and storytelling.
"It's so calm, I wouldn't be surprised if we had a storm this afternoon."
The death of the Scarlet Ibis "foreshadows" the death of Doodle
“Then I’ll leave you here by yourself,” I threatened, and made as if I were going down. Doodle was frightened of being left. “Don’t leave me, Brother,” he cried,.." This is a foreshadowing event to the brother leaving Doodle in the rain.
Foreshadowing, to the story, gives us a subtle hint to what will happen in the future. To the story, we get this idea prodded in our minds that maybe this could happen, and as we can only imagine what happens next, we really find out that the author basically told us.
"Brother, Brother, don't leave me! Don't leave me!"
Repatition emphasizes a certain message in the story. In this, the emphasis was on Doodle being desperate for his brother, and was afraid of being alone.
Why This Connects to the Text
In the music video "Wake Me Up", the two girls seem to be on there own, and as they go through town, they see that they are different and they want to go somewhere they belong and are like everybody else. This is like the narrator wanting to fit inbut needs Doodle to fit in. Also, for a short period the older sibling leaves the younger sibling but comes back.
Why does this relate to the story?
In "How the Grinch Stole Christmas, (so far) we know of two characters: the Grinch himself, and his dog, Max. While the Grinch was getting ready, Max helped him. When the Grinch realizes he doesn't have a "reindeer", he forces Max to play his reindeer and help him achieve his goal of stealing Christmas. Then, when Max doesn't do what he was asked to, the Grinch keeps getting him to do it.
In "The Scarlet Ibis", the brother, in a way, "forces" Doodle to walk, then more physically exerting activities. This was done to help the brother not be (as) embarrassed anymore of his little brother. Then, when Doodle didn't want to practice, the brother found ways to get Doodle to do it.
How does this relate to the story?
In this video of a disabled woman being aided by her son to accomplish her dream of surfing with them, this can be connected to the sotry since Doodle's brother helped him do physical activities, mainly walking, even though he is disabled.
When Doodle dies at the end of the story, all I could think was, why did he have to die? Part of me was hoping for that miracle happy ending where Doodle survives and they all live happily. However, after reading the beginning, we already know that a death will occur.
Several instances in the story I was confused. There were a lot of unclear and made me question the story. This was partially because the author wants to let us guess, or imagine, the answers to our questions. I often wondered about what Doodle really had and what was going on at home.
I felt frustrated and disappointed when the brother left Doodle. Like the dinosaur hoped to clap I hoped that the narrator would return to and I was upset, and disappointed, when the brother refused to see past his pride and kept running.
Information about James Hurst
1922- This could give him a background view on what times were like during his story.

Lived in North Carolina, near the sea, on a farm- this is VERY similar to the setting in the story, so it seems that he put what he was familiar with in the story

Grew many flowers in his own garden- most of the flowers he grew were in the story

Served in the army- the references to war and soldiers could be due to the connection to the military.
"For a long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain."
"The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking softy the names of our dead."
Warning: Spoiler Alert

"Doodle was just about the craziest brother a boy every had. Of course, he wasn't crazy crazy like old Miss Leedie, who was in love with President Wilson and wrote him a letter every day, but was a nice crazy, like someone
you meet in your dreams. He was born when I was six and was, from the outset, a disappointment.
From the very beginning, the narrator foreshadows the inevitable event of Doodle's death. We can assume this since the narrator talks in a past tense, different from the rest of the story, since he uses it to describe Doodle. This contributes to the story since it is, after all, the outcome.
Also, this tells us how the narrator felt towards Doodle, at the end. How Doodle was such an amazing person, it saddens the reader even more to read how sometimes the most incredible people have the worst things happen to them. Along with that, it goes along with the theme of disappointment, which later leads to the theme of pride taking over.
Considering the brother taught Doodle to achieve the (considered) impossible task of performing physical tasks, why does he consider naming his brother "Doodle" the kindest thing he has ever done for him? And did the brother call him that for a specific reason besides when Doodle crawled backwards?
"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 William Armstrong."
A doodlebug is also a form of the roly poly (the bugs that curl into little balls). Usually, adults think of them as pests, while children love them. This is key because it helps us recognize the theme of disappointment and the relationship can be evaluated between Doodle and his brother. Since Doodle is referred to as a Doodle bug, this might have been on purpose as Doodle's parents thinking of Doodle could seem like Doodle was a pest, where the brother, as a child himself, loves Doodle.
"I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death."
"It was Saturday noon, just a few days before school was to start. I should have already admitted defeat, but my pride wouldn't let me."
These two quotes relate to the same theme: pride. The second quote seems to be the example from the first. These quotes are more of morals for the story and help us visualize the effects of pride. For example, pride was what got the narrator to teach Doodle to walk, but pride was what also didn't stop the brother from doing something terrible. There is a balance that the narrator talks about, life and death. This quote is important because we now know that this pride will result in both results.
Why would the parents let the brother take Doodle, a disabled child, to roam off daily for hours at a time in a time like it was (WWI)?
My answer: Maybe it was how things were back then: children were allowed to run around since there weren't that many bad people in the world. As for Doodle's handicap, perhaps the parents just accepted the fact that Doodle could die anyway.
Why did the family let Doodle struggle and bury the Scarlet Ibis all by himself, especially while he felt like he did?
My answer: Doodle was going through a time where he connected with the Scarlet Ibis and maybe the family felt to give him space. Also, maybe the family didn't know how to react.
The Scarlet Ibis (no matter how upset it made me) is a fantastic story. From the stories themes of disappointment, pride, accomplishment, and tragedy, we learn a lesson of what pride can do to us (obviously an over exaggerated story, but a lesson, nonetheless). It also attacks our emotions, making us feel sorrow towards the story, even though we knew the death was coming.
James Hurst's writing style is definitely magnificent, but not exactly flawless. For one, he could have gone without the first section of the story, which is more of a
summary than an introduction. It gave too much away, so we had nothing that surprised us too much (because we were surprised at some parts). Along with giving too much away, he could of lessened the use of foreshadowing. When reading a story, we want to expect the unexpected. Other than that, the story served its purpose of making us "feel" and was written exceedingly well.
Both of these quotes show symbolism, and are two of the many. The first quote symbolizes the Scarlet Ibis's connection to Doodle, while the second symbolizes the presence of a death.
My answer: the name symbolizes that the name was supposed to show how the unlikeliest of people can achieve the most amazing thing, and this "gift" wasn't as harsh to give as the narrator's other "gifts" to Doodle.
What disease did Doodle have?
My answer: I don't really have an answer for this one, as it is hard to tell. He could have had multiple diseases, or even a combination of various diseases.
Since we don't get to see a lot of anything other than the brother and Doodle, what was life like for Doodle at times?
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