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The Scarlet Ibis Essay Topics & Writing Assignments
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...
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The Scarlet Ibis
28 pages • 56 minutes read
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Symbols & Motifs
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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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Books — The Scarlet Ibis
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 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.
Tragedy, Short Story
Narrator, Doodle, Mama, Daddy, Aunt Nicey, Miss Leedie
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The Scarlet Ibis
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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…
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…
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…
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…
Scarlet Ibis Literary essay
The Scarlet Ibis
by James Hurst
The scarlet ibis literary elements.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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."
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
- James Hurst