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Dangerous Emotions

Satisfactory Essays
Human emotions incite complex reactions that are often difficult to control. Even feelings that seem conventional or puerile have the ability to transform an ordinary situation into a treacherous one. In The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst, Brother struggles with humiliation towards his younger, crippled brother, Doodle. After teaching Doodle to walk, his pride impels him to help Doodle acquire other skills he needs to function in society. However, when his pride becomes blinding, Brother forces Doodle beyond his limits and is forced to accept the consequences. Though loved by his brother, Doodle becomes an innocent victim of selfishness and pride. The bitter seed of shame that blossoms into the flower of pride strangles discernment and results in absolute inability to accept defeat.
Brother was ashamed of Doodle immediately following his birth. “It was bad enough having an invalid brother, but having one who possibly was not all there was unbearable, so I began to make plans to kill him by smothering him with a pillow.” (345). Before he even knew Doodle, Brother was unable to accept his limitations, both physical and mental. Brother does not believe that he can truly be proud of himself if Doodle is disabled. As a result, Brother desperately attempts to teach Doodle to row, climb vines, and swim before they begin school. “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?” “It certainly does,” I said.” (350) Through his inquiry of Doodle’s skills, Brother is inferring that he does not want Doodle to be different. When Doodle asks for affirmation of Brother’s love despite his failure at the physical tasks, Brother essentially tells Dood...

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...s Doodle is dead, but it is too late to reverse the consequences of his actions.
Although realizing he was in the clutches of pride and humiliation, Brother could not admit Doodle’s defeat without admitting his own. His selfish and proud nature ultimately resulted in Doodle’s death. As Brother is only 13, he places great importance on being accepted. Not only his humiliation but also his desire for conformity prompt Brother to teach Doodle to walk, climb vines, swim, and row. Brother sees himself as superior to Doodle, a common feeling for an older sibling of his age. Doodle’s condition coupled with Brother’s arrogance and pride turned legitimate feelings between siblings into a sequence of deadly circumstances. Brother recognized his pride, but was unable to break free from its grasp. Although desirable, the ability to control human emotion is difficult to obtain.
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