The Scarlet Ibis Symbols

Good Essays
I have never had a brother, but if I did, would I look up to him or would he look up to me? This question comes to mind when I read James Hurst's "The Scarlet Ibis," Hurst's short story is realistic fiction, but it seems as if it's non-fiction. "The Scarlet Ibis" is about a boy and his crippled younger brother. Brother wants a younger brother, but when Doodle turns out to be crippled, he tries to teach him how to walk, swim, run, and fight out of his own selfishness. Along the way, both Brother and Doodle feel may conflicting emotions. In the end, these conflicting emotions lead to the unfortunate death of Doodle. Hurst uses symbolism to reveal the conflicting emotions of both Brother and Doodle. We first see Doodle's conflicting emotions when Brother is first teaching him to walk. Doodle thinks, "[He] just can't do it. [He wants to go] make honeysuckle wreaths." (Hurst 112) When you first try honeysuckle, you are reluctant at the thought of sucking on a flower, yet you want to find out how sweet it is. In the same way, Doodle doesn't want to learn how to walk, yet he wonders how much better life would be if he knew how to walk. Therefore, the honeysuckle symbolizes Doodle's conflicting emotions of reluctance at the idea of walking, yet he wants to learn when he thinks of how much better life would be if he could walk. Brother and Doodle "went to the pine beside the stream of Old Woman Swamp, and [Brother] put [Doodle] on his feet at least a hundred times each afternoon." (Hurst 112) This shows that no matter how many times Doodle fails, Brother will always pick him up. In addition, it seems that even when Doodle feels bad, Brother helps him get back up and move on. Determination is not something that comes t... ... middle of paper ... ...f his pride, yet he seems to do what it tells him to do anyway, just like how Doodle doesn't want to learn how to run or swim, but he does what Brother says anyway. Therefore, it seems that while Brother is a slave to pride, Doodle is a slave to Brother. Pride can be both good and bad, and is "a seed that bears two vines, life and death." (Hurst 112) In "The Scarlet Ibis," Hurst reveals the sting of pain that Brother feels all the while surrounded by the happiness of his family. He also reveals the determination of Doodle prompted by fear and revived by Brother. These are evident if you observe the symbols placed by Hurst. Simply put, these conflicting emotions bring about the death of Doodle and the hawthorn bush. Works Cited Hurst, James. The Scarlet Ibis. Mirrors and Windows: Connecting with Literature, Level IV. St. Paul: EMC. 2009. Print.
Get Access