The Scarlet Ibis

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorJunior High, 9th grade October 2001

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The Scarlet Ibis Theme is a statement about life a particular work of literature is trying to get across to the reader. In some stories the theme is not directly stated, but must be expressed from other elements in the story. In the short story "The Scarlet Ibis," written by James Hurst, the theme is not directly stated but is inferred. One of the major themes is ""¦all of us must have something or someone to be proud of" (Hurst 318). The author illustrates this pride when Doodle walks for his first time in the swamp, when Doodle walks in front of his parents, and when the narrator would not give up on Doodle. The narrator is proud of Doodle when he walks for the first time. This sense of pride in Doodle's accomplishments is when the brothers truly connect.

The narrator is extremely proud that Doodle finally walks when the family and doctors argue he cannot.

The narrator laughs "I grabbed him in my arms and hugged him, our laughter pealing through the swamp like a ringing bell" (319). The older brother knows Doodle can walk. He cannot wait to tell everyone. The brother declares, "Hope no longer hid in the dark palmetto thicket but perched like a cardinal in the lacy toothbrush tree"¦" (319). Of course, the brothers decide not to tell their parents about Doodle until Doodle's birthday. The brothers find it hard to keep the secret. Doodle and his brother are so happy, but the older brother is extremely proud that Doodle is no longer so different.

On Doodle's birthday the brothers decide to deliver the surprise because it seemed like a present for the whole family. The narrator says, ""¦had them turn their backs making them cross their hearts and hope to die if the peeked" (319). The parents turn their backs and Doodle begins to walk. They see him and are so happy. The brother narrates, "Then mama began to cry and ran over to him" (319). Then the brother begins to cry. His pride in his younger brother's success overcomes him. The older brother is so proud of Doodle because he can walk and everyone else is proud of the older brother for teaching Doodle.

The older brother has helped Doodle to walk and the family is happy that Doodle is close to normal. The elder brother's egotism will not let him let Doodle be. The older assumes: "Success lay at the end of summer like a pot of gold" (320). He believes that success is at the end of summer, but Doodle may not think that success is that close. The elder brother makes Doodle go swimming or row or run. The older sibling rings ""¦to make that last drive and reach our pot of gold" (320). The brother is not doing all this work to help Doodle; however he is doing this for himself. He wants to have a perfect brother and pushes Doodle. In the end the brother's pride is Doodle's demise because he was forced to a stage he could not perform properly.

Pride is deadly for Doodle and his brother. Doodle is able to walk, but he cannot do everything his brother wants him to do. He is pushed to the edge of his abilities. It is sad that Doodle is not as successful his brother wants him to be, but he tries so hard to please his brother. Doodle is killed by his love for his brother. Doodle's love was not powerful enough to overcome death.