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The Scarlet Ibis Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst

Essay Topic 1

"Brother" feels ashamed of Doodle because of Doodle's physical differences from the average boy that "Brother" knows at school. What other kinds of unnecessary shame do people feel about their relatives or friends, or about themselves, based on differences from what they think is "normal"? Choose one of these to write about--explain what the prejudice is, what it can cause people to do and feel, and why people should actually not be ashamed of this "difference." Cite all of your sources in MLA format.

Essay Topic 2

Because "Brother" narrates the story, the reader knows his motivations. But what causes Doodle to go along with what his brother wants? Write an essay that uses clear examples from the text to support your claims about what Doodle's motivations are.

Essay Topic 3

Hurst offers a great deal of foreshadowing in the opening of "The Scarlet Ibis." Write an essay...

(read more Essay Topics)

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The Scarlet Ibis

28 pages • 56 minutes read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Story Analysis

Character Analysis

Symbols & Motifs

Literary Devices

Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Discussion Questions

Why is it important to the narrator that Doodle learn athletic skills like rowing, swimming, and fighting, and what does this value indicate about his character?

The Armstrongs are depicted as a family of five, including Aunt Nicey . How does the narrative characterize Mama and Daddy as parents of a child with disabilities? Why does Hurst include the character of Aunt Nicey?

Contemporary critics view Hurst’s “The Scarlet Ibis” as “ableist,” or espousing the idea that individuals without physical or mental disabilities are superior. Using textual support, argue whether this is a fair assessment of the story.

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Essays on The Scarlet Ibis

Prompt examples for "the scarlet ibis" essays, sibling relationships.

Explore the theme of sibling relationships in "The Scarlet Ibis." How does the bond between Doodle and the narrator change throughout the story, and what does it reveal about love, expectations, and acceptance?

Guilt and Responsibility

Analyze the narrator's feelings of guilt and responsibility for Doodle's fate. How does the narrator's actions impact the story, and what does it teach us about the consequences of our choices?

Symbols and Imagery

Discuss the significance of the scarlet ibis and other symbols and imagery in the story. How do these elements contribute to the overall themes and message of the narrative?

Coming of Age

Examine the theme of coming of age in the story. How does the narrator's growth and understanding of his brother change as he matures, and what life lessons does he learn?

The Power of Pride

Consider the theme of pride and its impact on the characters. How does the narrator's pride affect his relationship with Doodle, and how does it ultimately shape the story's tragic outcome?

Irony and Foreshadowing

Analyze the use of irony and foreshadowing in the narrative. How do these literary devices enhance the reader's understanding of the story and its events?

"The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst

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The Theme of Fraternal Injury as Illustrated in The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst

Comparative analysis of the scarlet ibis by james hurst and simon birch by mark steven johnson, the role of seasons in the scarlet ibis by james hurst, analysis of the connection of the tell-tale heart, the scarlet ibis, and to kill a mockingbird.

James Hurst

Tragedy, Short Story

Narrator, Doodle, Mama, Daddy, Aunt Nicey, Miss Leedie

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the scarlet ibis essay questions

the scarlet ibis essay questions

The Scarlet Ibis

James hurst, everything you need for every book you read..

Expectations and Disappointment Theme Icon

Expectations and Disappointment

The primary conflict of “The Scarlet Ibis” surrounds Doodle ’s disability and how he works to overcome it with the help of Brother . The way in which Hurst presents Doodle’s journey, however, demonstrates that Doodle’s biggest challenges often arise not from his actual disability, but instead from the judgment and pressure he experiences from different people in his life. Brother admits that when Doodle was born, he saw him as a “disappointment” because he…

Expectations and Disappointment Theme Icon

Brother takes pride in Doodle ’s achievements, and this sense of pride becomes a major motivation for his actions throughout “The Scarlet Ibis.” He gradually acknowledges that he only helps his brother out of a sense of pride, and that this pride leads him to behave selfishly. Other characters, such as Doodle’s parents , also find pride in Doodle’s accomplishments and hard work, spurring Doodle to work harder and harder to please his family. Hurst’s…

Pride Theme Icon

Hurst refers to death explicitly and implicitly throughout “The Scarlet Ibis,” using foreshadowing, the symbolism of the ibis itself, and allusions to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These devices give the story an allegorical dimension, demonstrating that often the most innocent people die not because they deserve to die, but because of the carelessness and wrongdoing of others. The story contains several examples of foreshadowing of Doodle’s untimely death. For instance, when Doodle…

Death Theme Icon

Humans and Nature

“The Scarlet Ibis” is filled with many rich descriptions of the natural world. It quickly establishes the rural North Carolina farmland in which the story takes place and draws some of its most important symbols from nature. Beyond providing a detailed vision of the story’s setting, however, Hurst uses descriptions of nature and the seasons to mirror the boys’ states of mind as well as the dynamic between them, and to suggest that, like nature…

Humans and Nature Theme Icon

Scarlet Ibis Literary essay

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

The scarlet ibis literary elements.

Southern Gothic

Setting and Context

The American South, around 1918, on a family farm near a swamp and a creek

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator is a young boy, older brother to Doodle, the disabled child that this story centers around. The majority of the story is in first-person past, since the narrator in the present is telling a story about something that happened in the past.

Tone and Mood

There is a heavy tone of guilt present throughout most of the story; the narrator feels he is to blame for Doodle's death, and since he is telling this in the present, he already knows what happened and he feels shame about it. The mood lightens at certain points in the story, such as when Doodle experiences Old Woman Swamp for the first time and learns to walk, but overall it is predominantly remorseful and guilty.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is the narrator, Doodle's older brother, and though there is no physical antagonist, the source of conflict is Doodle's disability.

Major Conflict

The main conflict in the story is Doodle's disability. After Doodle lives when no one expected him to, the narrator must figure out how to cope with having a disabled brother who is not what he always pictured his little brother would be.

The climax of the story is the moment when Doodle learns to walk. The beginning of the story had been working up to this occasion, and what follows is the falling action that comes as a result of this climax.

Foreshadowing

The author incorporates a lot of foreshadowing into this story, which makes sense, since the narrator is telling a story about the past in the present and he already knows everything that will happen. Some of the notable instances of foreshadowing are the following:

"They named him William Armstrong, which is like tying a big tail on a small kite. Such a name sounds good only on a tombstone." "Renaming my brother was perhaps the kindest thing I ever did for him, because nobody expects much from someone called Doodle." "Dead birds is bad luck," said Aunt Nicey, poking her head from the kitchen door. "Specially red dead birds!"

Understatement

This story is full of vivid imagery, typically involving the natural world, as nature features prominently into the lives of the two brothers. The narrator paints a picture of the house they live in and the garden around it with the line, "The flower garden was strained with rotting brown magnolia petals and ironweeds grew rank amid the purple phlox." He goes on to describe their favorite place, the Old Woman Swamp, with vibrant imagery, and does the same with the scarlet ibis as it flies into the bleeding tree and eventually dies at their feet.

The narrator's pride is a paradox, because all at once it brings about both life and death. It is his pride that prompts him to teach Doodle to walk, which allows Doodle to live in a way he never has before. However, it is also this pride that makes him push Doodle past his limit, which brings his literal death. A good line that exemplifies this is "I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death." It seems paradoxical that both concepts, life and death, could exist at once in a single entity, but this is the case for the narrator's pride.

Parallelism

Metonymy and synecdoche, personification.

The narrator personifies many elements of the natural world, through lines such as the following:

"The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking softy the names of our dead." "I pulled the go-cart through the saw-tooth fern, down into the green dimness where the palmetto fronds whispered by the stream."

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The Scarlet Ibis Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Scarlet Ibis is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

The scarlet ibis

The author uses weather as a form of foreshadowing. Storms and natural occurrences, foreshadow from the very beginning what will happen at the end. The narrator and Doodle face a huge obstacle in the way of their goal when they experience a...

Which of the following quotes from the text best reflects how the author uses nature to enhance the dark tone of the story? Answer choices for the above question A. “The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton fiel

I'm sorry, you need to place your answer choices in the "details" box. Please repost your question.

The surprise was Doodle walking across the room to the table on his birthday.

At breakfast on our chosen day, when Mama, Daddy, and Aunt Nicey were in the dining room, I brought Doodle to the door in the gocart just as usual and had them turn...

Study Guide for The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis study guide contains a biography of James Hurst, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About The Scarlet Ibis
  • The Scarlet Ibis Summary
  • Character List

Essays for The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst.

  • Brotherly Injury: The Scarlet Ibis
  • Character Comparison Essay: "The Scarlet Ibis" and "Thank You Ma'am"

Wikipedia Entries for The Scarlet Ibis

  • Introduction
  • James Hurst

the scarlet ibis essay questions

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COMMENTS

  1. The Scarlet Ibis Essay Questions

    1 How does pride feature into "The Scarlet Ibis?" Pride rules the narrator's decisions and actions in this story. The narrator acknowledges that his pride brings about both life and death—on one hand, pride is what drove him to teach Doodle how to walk, and that ended successfully.

  2. The Scarlet Ibis Questions and Answers

    Is he responsible for Doodle's death? What is the meaning of the quote "They named him William Armstrong which was like tying a big tail on a small kite" from "The Scarlet Ibis"? In "The Scarlet...

  3. The Scarlet Ibis Summary & Analysis

    Summary Analysis Brother opens his narration by describing the end of a summer in his past, during which an ibis landed "in the bleeding tree." The birds' nests were empty, and the flowers were decaying. Brother comments on how much things have changed since that summer.

  4. The Scarlet Ibis Study Guide

    Essay Questions Quizzes - Test Yourself! Quiz 1 Quiz 2 Quiz 3

  5. The Scarlet Ibis Study Guide

    Historical Context of The Scarlet Ibis. James Hurst drew upon his own experience when writing The Scarlet Ibis, as he grew up in rural North Carolina, where the story is set. Hurst was born in 1922, which makes him only slightly younger than the boys in the story. The story takes place during World War I, a decision which was likely influenced ...

  6. What are some discussion questions for "The Scarlet Ibis"?

    Quick answer: The Scarlet Ibis is a very short story. It is told in the first person point of view, by Brother. He tells the story of when he was a boy and his younger brother, Doodle, was born...

  7. The Scarlet Ibis Discussion Questions

    Part 1 What are some of the symbols that are used in the opening of the story? Why do you think the author chose to use this symbolism? Describe Doodle. What caused Doodle's health issues? How does...

  8. The Scarlet Ibis Part 1 Summary and Analysis

    Everyone thought he was going to die except for Aunt Nicey, who delivered him; she says that because he was born in a caul (a membrane that sometimes surrounds a baby's head at birth) he is going to live, because it makes him sacred. They even have a coffin built for Doodle.

  9. The Scarlet Ibis Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

    Hurst offers a great deal of foreshadowing in the opening of "The Scarlet Ibis." Write an essay... (read more Essay Topics) This section contains 852 words. (approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page) View a FREE sample. More summaries and resources for teaching or studying The Scarlet Ibis. View all Lesson Plans available from BookRags.

  10. The Scarlet Ibis Essay Topics

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.

  11. The Scarlet Ibis Essays: Free Examples/ Topics / Papers by

    The Scarlet Ibis: Investigation of Brother's Guilt in William Armstrong's Death. 3 pages / 1542 words. William Armstrong was a young boy filled with light, energy, and passion. He was burdened with a terrible condition making him sensitive towards the outside world. He had a loving family and aunt, who wanted him to live as long as possible.

  12. The Scarlet Ibis Themes

    The primary conflict of "The Scarlet Ibis" surrounds Doodle 's disability and how he works to overcome it with the help of Brother.The way in which Hurst presents Doodle's journey, however, demonstrates that Doodle's biggest challenges often arise not from his actual disability, but instead from the judgment and pressure he experiences from different people in his life.

  13. The Scarlet Ibis

    In "The Scarlet Ibis," what lesson does the narrator learn about himself as a result of his relationship with Doodle? In "The Scarlet Ibis," the narrator learns that he is dishonorable in...

  14. Scarlet Ibis Literary essay (docx)

    The Scarlet Ibis Literary Essay You are not the only one that matters in this life. Hurst's short story "The Scarlet Ibis" is about a boy who is living with an embarrassing and invalid brother, who he cannot stand the way he is. The story is viewed through the eyes of the selfish brother, who manipulates his brother for his personal reasons. What deems Hurst's short story extraordinary is the ...

  15. The Scarlet Ibis Questions and Answers

    Answers: 1 Asked by Clayton H #1316761 Last updated by Aslan a month ago 8/15/2023 9:26 AM The Scarlet Ibis Which of the following quotes from the text best reflects how the author uses nature to enhance the dark tone of the story? Answer choices for the above question A.

  16. The Scarlet Ibis questions Flashcards

    In the "Scarlet Ibis," what does the bleeding tree symbolize? A symbol for death and suggests some type of violence. What is the BIGGEST theme of the story? Pride. What is the meaning of caul? a sac filled with fluid at birth (it is known to be a special blessing to be born in a caul) What is the meaning of invalid?

  17. The Scarlet Ibis Quizzes

    1 What happens to Doodle on the way back home? He falls behind, and the narrator does not wait. He is struck by lightning. He spots the scarlet ibis and runs over to it. He trips over a root and skins his knee. 2 Why does the narrator do what he did? His pride makes him spiteful. Aunt Nicey told him to. Deep down, he hates Doodle.

  18. The Scarlet Ibis Overview Quiz

    Contains five questions about this classic, symbolic tale of familial love and tragedy. What does Brother force Doodle to touch? Question Answer Choices A naked woman A spider A wounded bird...

  19. Scarlet Ibis Essay Questions Essay

    1. The Scarlet Ibis is set on a farm, in North Carolina, in 1980. Also, the short story is set in the beginning of summer. 2. The narrator wishes for a brother who he can play, swim, run and do many more activities with. 3. When Doodle sees Old Woman Swamp, he stares at the scenery in wonder and appreciation.

  20. The Scarlet Ibis Literary Elements

    Such a name sounds good only on a tombstone." "Renaming my brother was perhaps the kindest thing I ever did for him, because nobody expects much from someone called Doodle." "Dead birds is bad luck," said Aunt Nicey, poking her head from the kitchen door. "Specially red dead birds!"

  21. What is the setting of "The Scarlet Ibis"?

    Brenda Mauldin | Certified Educator Share "The Scarlet Ibis" is not one of those stories that has an obvious setting; however, there is overt reference to the setting throughout the story.

  22. Essay On The Scarlet Ibis

    Summary Of The Scarlet Ibis By James Hurat. 304 Words | 2 Pages. In the short story "The Scarlet Ibis," the author, James Hurat explains that the theme is that you should be grateful for what you have. In the story the characters are Doodle, Mom, Dad, Doodle's brother and Aunt Nicey. Doodle was born with a condition that made him not be ...