Themes in The Scarlet Ibis
Running head: THEMES IN THE SCARLET IBIS 1
Themesin TheScarlet Ibis
Themesin TheScarlet Ibis
TheScarlet Ibis isa literary work that was written by James Hurst. It has been adoptedby various textbooks and other collections. The story revolves aroundthe life of an unnamed narrator who is referred to as brother. Thenarrator reflects on the life of his younger brother WilliamArmstrong who had been nicknamed Doodle. Doodle had been sick and hadbeen born with various defects. After he was born, nobody includinghis family members expected him to survive. However, against all theodds he survives but is unable to undertake normal activities such aswalking. The narrator is frustrated and even plans to kill him. Thenarrator wishes that his brother was stronger and even when Doodlemakes some progress, he does not appreciate. The story endstragically with Doodle’s death. The paper analyzes the variousthemes in TheScarlet Ibis.
Prideis the central motif in TheScarlet Ibis. Thenarrator in the story is consumed by overwhelming pride. The narratorsays, “Pride is a powerful, terrible thing, a seed that bears twovines, life and death.” (Gale,2016). The statement substantially reflects the events of the story.Pride results in both negative and positive feelings that thenarrator had towards his brother. His actions and perceptions towardshis brother Doodle exemplify the pride. He has a very selfishbehavior that is seen in many instances. He was embarrassed by havinga brother like Doodle who was not physically strong. Further, he hadonce thought of killing Doodle by smothering him with a pillow. Hespent most of his time teaching Doodle to walk. His primarymotivation was his desire to have a brother who was normal. He nevertakes the time to think about his brother’s feelings. The storyclearly condemns pride by ending in the tragic death of Doodle.Doodle could not match his brother’s physical strength and thislead to his untimely death.
Thenarrator refers to Doodle as a crazy brother (Gale, 2016). Theexpression shows the lack of acceptance on the part of the narratorabout his brother’s condition. He further thinks that Doodle is adisappointment. The narrator was athletic and energetic and wishesthat he would have a brother who he would have fun with. When themother conveys the sad news that Doodle may never be able to walk orrun, he secretly plans to kill him. Even after he realizes thatDoodle was intelligent and could possess other good character traits,he still feels that needs a physically strong brother. Pride alsoleads to the narrator nicknaming his brother Doodle. After he startscrawling backward, the narrator is reminded of a doodlebug.
Evidently,the narrator’s judgment is affected by his pride. He fails toreason on matters that surround his brother (Gale, 2016). He did notweigh the effects of pushing him hard. He only thought of what hewanted and not what his brother wanted. Despite Doodle claiming hewas tired, the narrator still forces him to take a swimming lesson.Pride ultimately ruined Doodle’s life. Although he would have beenhappier learning how to walk and play, the narrator approached theissue the wrong way. The narrator ends up leaving Doodle in the stormdespite his cries for help.
WhenDoodle dies, the narrator feels a lot of guilt and blames himself forhis death. When it begins raining heavily, the narrator leaves hisbrother behind. He is more concerned about rain destroying theirplans than he is about his brother. In the thunder and lightning, hemanages to hear his brother calling for help. He, however, decides torun even faster. He later retreats to look for Doodle and finds outthat he had died. As the story ends, the narrator attempts callingDoodle loudly in vain. He is wrecked with guilt and self-blame (Gale,2016). Consequently, he wails and throws himself on the ground besideDoodle’s body. He weeps uncontrollably and finds it hard to come toterms with his brother’s death. Evidently, this displays the themeof guilt and blame.
When Doodle is born, the narrator is six months old. He has hopes ofhaving a brother who can be a playmate and a companion. He cannotimagine having a brother with minor character traits than hisimaginations. His expectations are quite high, and he finds it hardto adjust to reality. He sees Doodle as a feeble substitute. Hecontemplates killing him due to his in acceptance (Gale, 2016). Hisinflexibility is further exhibited by the fact that he spends most ofhis time trying to teach his brother physical activities. He attemptsto mold Doodle into something else, and this leads to his tragicdeath.
Overall,TheScarlet Ibis presentsan intersection of pride, guilt, and expectation and reality themes.The author shows how pride and lack of acceptance can lead to tragicoccurrences. He further gives a valid lesson to the reader to avoidpride since it could potentially lead to guilt and regrets.
Gale,C. (2016). AStudy Guide for James Hurst`s ""The Scarlet Ibis"".Farmington Hills: Gale, Cengage Learning.
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