Aunt Nicey seems like a minor character at first glance, but she actually serves an important role. From the beginning, Aunt Nicey is the only person who recognizes that Doodle's differences make him special, not a burden.
She insists that babies born in cauls are sacred and unique, and must be treated as such. She also serves as a voice of warning, both directly by saying that red birds bring bad luck after the ibis dies, and indirectly by subtly reminding the narrator that Doodle is someone to be appreciated.
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What is one important message that "The Scarlet Ibis" relays to present-day children? Particularly at ages similar to Doodle's and the narrator's, children are often afraid and hostile to those who appear different.
Someone like Doodle with a disability may be shunned simply because he is not like everyone else. This story teaches children to accept differences, because in trying to conform to the crowd, sometimes we might go a little too far. Had Doodle survived, this story's message would not have been anywhere near as powerful.
The narrator had to truly see the error of his ways at the end of the story, and if Doodle had not died, he would have continued to ignore the warning signs, push Doodle over and over again, and never truly learned a lesson. It is also important because everyone expected Doodle to die from the very beginning, but he exceeded his expectations; now, at last, what everyone was afraid of has actually happened. Since the narrator is telling these events after they happened, he knows exactly what is to come at every moment, which adds to the tone of guilt and remorse prevalent in this work.
It also heightens the sense of dramatic irony; the present narrator knows exactly what will happen, readers can guess early on what will happen, and yet the past narrator ignores the warning signs and has no idea what kind of consequences his foolish pride will bring. When Doodle is given the name William Armstrong, the narrator comments that such a name sounds good only on a tombstone. Since this name is unsuitable, it also provides Doodle with the opportunity to earn his own name, something that most people do not have. He is eventually named based on the way he crawls, which is significant because crawling was never something his body should have been able to do in the first place.
As a way of passing the time, Doodle and his older brother take up "lying," or making up outlandish stories and judging whose are better.
Doodle is the better liar, and this is important because by lying, he is able to fabricate a reality more ideal than his own. Doodle is constantly trying to break through the boundaries set by his disability, and his adeptness at "lying" is another way he is able to do so.
How would you describe the narrator's attitude toward Doodle? Two examples of imagery used in the first few paragraphs with quotes? The flower garden is prim, the house a gleaming white, and the pale fence across the yard stands straight and spruce. Why do you suppose, the author chose to leave his narrator unnamed? How does this impact the readers experience? I think the Narrator is up to the reader to interpret.
Doodle says these words twice throughout the story, the first when the narrator threatens to walk away and leave him alone in the barn with his casket, and again at the end when the narrator begins to rush ahead in the storm, leaving Doodle behind. This quote emphasizes Doodle's dependency on his older brother—he simply cannot function without him—and also his idolizing view of him.
It also sets the narrator up to make a choice. The first time, he stays with Doodle until Doodle does what he asks and touches the coffin. He does not leave. The second time, he does leave, and that seals Doodle's fate.
I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death. With this quote, the narrator looks back on the events of the past with the wisdom that he has only acquired after the fact. He knew back then that he had to do something to make Doodle a brother to be proud of, but he did not know the disastrous effects that his pride would have until it was too late.
He was aware of his pride, and yet he did nothing to stop it. It is telling enough that the narrator and Doodle spend their spare time "lying," or telling outlandish stories, but it is even more noteworthy that Doodle is the better of the two liars. These elaborate lies, like the story of Peter and the peacock that the narrator recounts, are a means by which Doodle distracts himself from his less-than-satisfactory reality.
Literary Devices in The Scarlet Ibis
This goes hand-in-hand with his immense appreciation for all things beautiful; these lies account for the things that Doodle feels his life is lacking. You can do it. Do you want to be different from everybody else when you start school? Doodle's disabilities undoubtedly make him different from the average person, but this story questions whether these differences even matter.
To the narrator, they do; he is very concerned with molding Doodle to the image in his head of the perfect little brother. Doodle, though, does not see things the way his older brother sees them.
Right after the narrator says this, Doodle asks whether it even makes a difference. The narrator insists that it does, and continues to push him right past his breaking point in the interest of conformity. Upon watching the scarlet ibis die, Doodle forms a strong connection with the bird.
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Doodle has connected with the scarlet ibis because he is the scarlet ibis, worn down and pushed beyond his limits. This response also fits very well with Doodle's character; he has an eye for beauty, and, according to the narrator, the ibis is majestic and beautiful even in death. This carefully crafted line ends the story. The narrator at last recognizes the harm that his pride has brought about, and, upon connecting him to the fallen scarlet ibis, finally treats him with the fragility and care that had been missing all along. This moment is not about the narrator protecting himself; it is about protecting Doodle, who unfortunately would have benefited from this protection long ago.
How would you describe the narrator's attitude toward Doodle?