The scarlet ibis discussion notes
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“The Scarlet Ibis” Discussion notes. The narrator. First person point of view Told in flashback How old is the narrator before the flashback?

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The scarlet ibis discussion notes

“The Scarlet Ibis”Discussion notes

The narrator
The narrator

  • First person point of view

  • Told in flashback

  • How old is the narrator before the flashback?

  • “But sometimes (like right now), as I sit in the cool, green-draped parlor, the grindstone begins to turn, and time with all its changes is ground away– and I remember Doodle.”

Doodle as a baby
Doodle as a baby

  • The narrator is disappointed

  • He wanted someone to play with, yet all he sees is a physically disabled baby who might die

  • He even considers smothering his little brother until he discovers that Doodle is not mentally disabled- he is “all there”! What does it mean to be “all there”?

Characterizing the narrator
Characterizing the narrator

  • Characterization- much of what we learn about the narrator is based on his words, thoughts, or actions regarding his brother

  • Is the narrator dynamic or static? Support your answer.

Doodle at two
Doodle at Two

  • The narrator feels Doodle is part of the family since he begins to crawl and could be brought out of the bedroom

  • He renames William Armstrong because he crawls backward like a doodlebug- plus, nobody expects much from someone called Doodle

Doodle and the go cart
Doodle and the Go-Cart

  • Doodle is a burden because the narrator must take him everywhere, and Doodle needs special care

  • The narrator is cruel to Doodle

  • After he accepts that Doodle is his brother and inescapable, the narrator shares Old Woman Swamp with him

Doodle at five
Doodle at Five

  • The narrator is embarrassed that his brother cannot walk

  • The narrator needs to be proud of someone or something

  • The narrator forces Doodle to stand and to walk

Doodle s sixth birthday
Doodle’s Sixth Birthday

  • The narrator realizes that he taught Doodle to walk because the narrator was ashamed of Doodle not walking

  • The narrator realizes that his motives in teaching Doodle to walk were purely selfish - PRIDE!

Setting and tone
Setting and Tone

  • The author makes great use of setting in his story; he uses it to establish the tone, to provide foreshadowing, and to provide symbolism

  • Time- 1912-1918- WWI (ends in 1918)- destruction – the blight damaging the crops can be compared to the destruction the war causes to people and places

  • “And during that summer, strange names were heard through the house: Chateau-Thierry, Soissons, and in her blessing at the supper table, Mama once said, “And bless the Pearsons, whose boy Joe was lost in Belleau Wood”

James hurst s hope
James Hurst’s Hope

  • He wants the readers of “The Scarlet Ibis” to think of how the war raging among “brothers” in Europe is related to the conflict between Doodle and his brother.

  • He reflects, “People always suffer when others try to make them over in their own image.”

United States soldiers fire a machine gun

in Belleau Wood, France, in June 1918.

Setting and tone1
Setting and Tone

  • Place-North Carolina; cotton farm; Old Woman Swamp

  • Atmosphere- clove of seasons- summer is dead & autumn is not born

  • Summer was blighted- crops withered, curled up, and died

  • What is the tone of this story? How does the setting help to develop this from the first paragraph?


  • Summer of 1918 was blighted- plant growth replaced by death and decay

  • Fall of Ibis- Doodle’s fall

  • Doodle’s response to the Ibis

  • “Dead birds is bad luck…Specially red dead birds!”

Allusion new literary term
Allusion- new literary term

  • Allusion- a reference in a work of literature to a well-known character, place, or situation from literature, music, mythology, film, religion (especially the Bible), art, or history.

  • The Family Guy frequently uses allusions. Ex. This scene is an allusion to a scene in The Lady and the Tramp.

Three allusions in our story
Three Allusions in our story

1. Belleau Woods- WWI battle sites

2. Hansel and Gretel- “It was too late to turn back, for we had both wandered too far into a net of expectations and had left no crumbs behind.”

3. “If we produced anything less than the Resurrection, [Aunt Nicey] was going to be disappointed.”


  • Imagery is descriptive language that deals with any of the five senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste), and even movement.

  • Essentially, imagery is any series of words that create a picture, or sensory experience in your head.

  • The use of figurative language (similes, metaphors, and personification) helps create imagery in writing. Let’s look at some examples.


  • “…with a tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man’s”- simile that appeals to the sense of sight

  • “…curtains billowed out in the afternoon sea breeze, rustling like palmetto fronds”- simile that appeals to the sense of sight and provides movement

  • “Even death did not mar its grace, for it lay on the earth like a broken vase of red flowers.” –simile that appeals to the sense of sight

  • “The [rain] drops stung my face like nettles”- simile that appeals to the sense of touch

  • Nettles are covered with tiny, nearly invisible stinging hairs that produce an intense, stinging pain, followed by redness and skin irritation.

Death imagery
Death Imagery

  • Bleeding tree

  • Rotting brown magnolia

  • Ironweeds grew rank

  • Graveyard flowers

  • Mahogany box

  • Black clouds, darkness descended

Other examples of similes and metaphors
Other Examples of Similes and Metaphors

  • Simile- William Armstrong’s name is like putting a big tail on a small kite

  • Metaphor- “There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction…”- The narrator’s cruelty is being compared to a disease that kills .

  • Metaphor- “Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.”

  • Simile- “Promise hung about us like leaves”

  • Simile- “Hope no longer hid in the dark palmetto thicket, but perched like a cardinal in the lacy toothbrush tree, brilliantly visible.” (red cardinal is compared to a sense of hope)


  • A symbol is a thing or idea that stands for something else

  • The main symbol in the story is the scarlet ibis which stands for Doodle

  • Why does the author choose the scarlet ibis as the symbol as opposed to another bird?

  • With what is red usually associated? Why choose a red bird and develop red imagery?

Key lines that develop theme
Key Lines that Develop Theme

  • “There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction…”

  • “All of us must have something to be proud of”

  • “Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.”