“The Scarlet Ibis” is a short story about a boy and his disable brother named Doodle. It is a story ripe with one boy’s pride, another’s determination, and both of them experiencing tragedy. James Hurst, the author of the story, created the tale in a way that will keep the reader engaged. Throughout the story, James uses many symbols to convey a wide variety of effects. For example, he foreshadows Doodle’s death with the arrival of the dying Scarlet Ibis. Another example would be how Hurst created an atmosphere of sadness in the first paragraph by using tombstone and graveyard flowers. In short, Hurst used those objects and concepts to greatly enrich his story. Hurst used the color red and Brother as symbols to show the emotions of rage, pride, and love and their effects on one’s relationships.
Rage is a powerful emotion and usually has destructive effects on one’s relationship as shown in this story. Rage is a trait that Brother demonstrated many times throughout the story. One time Brother showed rage was when he left Doodle in the rain because of Doodle’s inability to start school on time. The side effect of this rage was the death of Doodle. It can be said the red blood covering Doodle can thought of as Doodle being covered in Brother’s rage. Another side effect of rage can be thought of as sadness and regret. Brother regrets leaving Doodle in the rain all by himself. Therefore, sorrow can be a potential aftereffect of rage.
Pride is emotion whose effects are known since ancient times. Its effects are shown throughout the story. Brother is a prideful person. He did not wanted Doodle to be an invalid because he wanted him to be his pride and joy. When Doodle was born, he had a small red head. This could foreshadow that Brother wanted Doodle to be great and the source of his pride, if the color red was linked to pride. The pride that Brother had for Doodle lead Doodle to do some amazing accomplishment doctors did not think possible such as walking. But in the end, that pride led to Doodle’s death because Brother did not let his pride of Doodle go.
Love is a very strong emotion, and its effects can be seen throughout the story. One possible example is that Doodle was born red. This can signify that a person, perhaps his mother, love him greatly. Another example of red signifying love and love covering Doodle is that the way they describe the scarlet ibis in its death, a broken vase of red flowers. The flowers could stand for the love that Doodle’s mother and perhaps even Brother had for Doodle. The coffin that the carpenter made for Doodle was mahogany, a reddish-brown color. This could represent that Doodle was loved by his father, but his father was grieving that his other son might die in an early age. The carpenter could have also represented Jesus, the Savior who died for humanity’s sins.
James Hurst crafted an amazing story that shows many aspects about humans and their emotions. Rage can destroy relationships and lives. Pride can cause someone to do great things, but can also lead to one’s death. Love can protect someone and care for that person. Brother and the color red has signified all of these emotions and their relative effects on relationships.