Essay Of The Scarlet Ibis

Throughout this story, the narrator allows his pride to cloud his compassion and blind him to Doodle's limitations. He is too proud to accept having a disabled brother, and this is why he takes every measure he can to teach Doodle to do able-bodied things. Because of his pride, he does these things more with his own benefit in mind than his brother's. This story is a clear condemnation of blinding and debilitating pride, since the narrator's pride brings about the eventual death of Doodle.

Doodle is different from everyone else right from the start of the story, and the narrator has trouble accepting that. He cannot cope with the fact that Doodle does not fit with his image of a perfect younger sibling. When he pushes Doodle into learning physical skills, he threatens him with the thought of being different from everyone else when he starts school. But "different" does not necessarily have to be bad; Aunt Nicey is the one person who consistently claims that Doodle's differences make him special, not a pariah.

It can often be tempting to push ourselves and the people we love past their limits in the hopes of achieving a goal, just like what happened with Doodle and the narrator. Sometimes this produces great results; after all, Doodle did learn to walk after working extremely hard. But it is important to be able to recognize when too much is just too much. The narrator was not able to see this, and he continued to push Doodle to his breaking point.

This story illustrates the importance of family bonds, particularly those between brothers. Doodle clearly looks up to the narrator, but many times over the course of the story the narrator fails to be the caring and compassionate brother he should be; instead, he is more concerned with the implications of having a disabled sibling. Without the support of his family or his brother, the person he looks up to most in the world, Doodle's strength was bound to leave him. At the end, following Doodle's death, the narrator realizes just how important his brother is to him, but by then it is far too late.

Because this story is framed as a retrospective, there is a lot of room for the narrator's guilt to come through. The narrator flashes back to this time in his life with a wistful, guilt-ridden tone; it is clear he blames himself for Doodle's death, even though Doodle was extremely unhealthy to begin with and other factors came into play as well. Though readers are not given further information about the narrator's current life, they are left with the question of whether or not he will ever be able to overcome his guilt, move on, and be happy.

From the very first time the narrator takes Doodle to Old Woman Swamp, Doodle has an eye for all things beautiful. Natural beauty plays a huge role in this story, from the vivid descriptions of the house and its surroundings, the swamp, the storm, the creek, and so much more, right to the beauty of the fallen scarlet ibis itself. Both boys appreciate the beauty around them, but Doodle does especially; the natural world serves as a kind of therapy for him, a means of healing himself and moving forward in the face of his disability.

Doodle's life, though short, was all about taking people by surprise and exceeding the expectations that others had for him. First, everyone believed that he would die, since caul babies usually do. Next, they believed that he would not be entirely sane because of his condition. Finally, they believed that he would never be able to walk.  Every time, he proved them wrong. Even though Doodle ultimately could not overcome his physical limitations, his life was still an impressive story of beating the odds.

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Essay On The Scarlet Ibis - With A Free Essay Review




The Scarlet Ibis is a short story by James Hurst weaving the tragic tale of Doodle, a disabled child and his brother, the narrator. Doodle's life has been a series of close calls; the only reason he is alive is the love and persistence – and occasional cruelty – of his brother. Brother's only motivation is to make Doodle like other kids in order to avoid the embarrassment of having a six-year-old brother who cannot even walk, amounting to what is, in essence, a battle with his own ego. As the story continues, Brother tries to fix the irreparable hole in his heart caused by his shame and selfishness toward Doodle.

Brother is constantly reminding Doodle of his own debility, bringing to light Doodle's unwillingness to participate in his brother's cold-blooded attempts to point out Doodle's mortality. When Brother makes Doodle touch the casket, he knows what to expect from Doodle. “Doodle was paralyzed, so I put him on my shoulder and carried him down the ladder, and even when we were outside in the sunlight, he clung to me, crying, 'Don't leave me. Don't leave me.'”(486). Doodle is utterly terrified of the casket, and his brother is aware of it. By making Doodle touch the casket, he is imprinting upon Doodle that he can never be normal, that he will always be teetering on the brink of life and death, never to be able to live up to his full potential. However cruel Brother's actions may be, he still takes an interest in Doodle, purely for his self-satisfaction. “When Doodle was five years old, I was embarrassed at having a brother of that age who couldn't walk, so I set out to teach him.”(488) Brother teaches Doodle how to walk, but it is purely for his own conscience. Embarrassed by Doodle's condition, he tries to fix Doodle's many abnormalities, without considering Doodle's own views and feelings.

The only thing that Brother wanted was a sibling with which he could play with, and the arrival of Doodle shattered his hopes. As a result, he makes Doodle pay for it on many occasions, the last of which took the life of his younger brother. “For a long, long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of the rain.”(493). In the end, Brother finally realizes the effects his actions have on young Doodle. The emotional trauma of his brother abandoning him in the rain combined with his preexisting physical conditions came together in a perfect storm, bringing to light the final effects of Brother's ambition-driven actions, a simple childhood act of spite with devastating results. Throughout the story, Brother tries to show both sides of the double-edged sword that is pride. “I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.”(488)

Brother's pride pushes him to give Doodle an existence away from his bed, and it is this obsession that leads to Doodle's tragic demise. Brother's pride did create a facsimile of real life for Doodle, but in the end, it crumbled, brought to its knees by pride and selfishness. Brother did love Doodle, but his ego overshadowed the fact the he was just trying to protect Doodle from a world that doesn't tolerate those that are different.

Doodle dies sad and broken, abandoned by the one person he looked up to. Brother proves himself no better than Doodle, showing himself to be as morally destitute as Doodle is physically incapable. In the end, however, Brother realizes that Doodle could not have led the life he left without his big brother leading the way for him. Brother may have acted cruelly toward his brother, but in the end, he realizes that some things cannot be changed, no matter the amount of love and persistence.

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ESSAY REVIEW

I have not read the story “The Scarlet Ibis,” but in a very good essay that would not matter much because the essay would fill me in on any details needed to understand the argument that is being made about the story. For instance, if your essay explained why the narrator refers to his dead brother as a fallen scarlet ibis, I would be less confused than I am now. You should write your essay for a reader who's as stupid as me and needs everything explained. I don't understand, for instance, why you say that Doodle is alive because of the love and persistence of his brother, and then inform me that the poor blighter dies "abandoned." I also don't understand why you say "Brother tries to fix the irreparable hole in his heart caused by his shame and selfishness toward Doodle," when the rest of your essay says nothing about this attempt to fix his cardiac problem. Your introduction, in other words, doesn't really introduce your essay. You need a clearer thesis statement that clarifies, for the sake of stupid readers like me, what you are actually going to argue about the story. Then, for the sake of stupid readers like me you need to make that argument the focus of your essay. Your essay instead meanders towards its argument, an argument that doesn't really get going until the final couple of paragraphs. The second paragraph begins with a descriptive summary and makes an unclear reference to some event about some casket or other and then works up to a claim about the narrator's self-interest in teaching Doodle to walk. The third paragraph begins by returning to descriptive summary and then eventually arrives at a claim about the narrator’s double-edged pride. The quotation about pride sounds interesting enough, the kind of thing that might be related to the core meaning of the story, but if that is the case (and it certainly seems to be the case that you are interested in the question of pride) then the question of pride should be the focus of the essay from the beginning. So, revise your thesis so that it articulates an explicit argument about the story. Then revise the organization of your essay so that the argumentative purpose of each paragraph is clear. Typically we do that by having topic sentences that make specific claims about the story at the beginning of our paragraphs and then use the rest of the paragraph to prove the truth of the claim. Your claims about the story tend not to be proven or explicitly related to a clearly defined overall argument. Instead you tend merely to assert the claim and hope your reader can fill in the gap between your summary of the story and the claims you make about it. Stupid readers like me aren't going to get it.

Best, EJ.

Submitted by: gproduturi11

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