Why the Brother in The Scarlet Ibis is Selfish

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Some people are selfish in such a way that affects only their own selves, but others’ selfishness can hurt those they care about. One of these such people is Brother in “The Scarlet Ibis”. In James Hurst’s “The Scarlet Ibis”, Brother is selfish and only teaches Doodle to walk to benefit himself.

Brother is too engulfed in his selfish desire for a ‘better’ brother that he does not give Doodle a chance to rest. “I made him swim until he turned blue, and row until he couldn’t lift an oar.” This excerpt shows the reader how ruthless Brother is in the training he has set up for Doodle. Brother appears to care more about him being capable of doing these ‘fun’ things than his brother having fun doing them does. “Success lay at the end of the summer like a pot of gold” When Brother says this, he relays how he is greedy for a better brother and will do anything to get what he wants.

Brother is selfish because he is not concerned about how the rigorous training is negatively affecting Doodle. “… Doodle began to look feverish, and Mama felt his forehead. At night he didn't sleep well, and sometimes he had nightmares, and I touched him and said, "Wake up, Doodle. Wake up.” Even though Brother is lucid of the fact that the training is making Doodle unwell, he continues to press Doodle to train harder. Every day, Brother makes Doodle train, even if he does not wish to. Brother is someone that Doodle always looks up to. Brother uses this to persuade Doodle that he must not be different.

In conclusion, Brother shows his self-interest in how he treats his younger brother. He treats his younger brother, Doodle, as something to ‘fix’ and he cannot accept his brother as he is. When Doodle finally learns to walk, Brother’s selfish need for a more ‘ideal’ little brother is not satisfied for long. Soon he demands a little brother who can run, jump, climb, swim, swing on vines, and row a boat. When he gives Doodle lessons for these activities, he does not do so for concern about Doodle wanting to be able to do them, but because he wants Doodle to be able to be a ‘normal’ brother.
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