The Symbolism in “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst

Disappointment occurs when people do not meet standards. In these situations, those must adapt, overcome, and always keep the faith. Relationships between families require a bond that can never be broken. James Hurst writes a masterful realistic fiction short story called “The Scarlet Ibis.” Brother has an invalid brother renamed Doodle, who is always following Brother around. Doodle also has trouble during the various seasons. Brother tries to make Doodle normal but is too insistent with the process. During the training, responsibility is put on Brother by the go-cart. The Scarlet Ibis is a symbol for the death of Doodle, along with the tombstone, and James Hurst uses various symbols throughout the story. The symbolism in “The Scarlet Ibis” represents Doodle and the various thoughts and feelings around him.

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James Hurst uses the seasons as symbols for Doodle’s progress. Various seasons portray positives and negatives. Winters portray regression, “For I [am] in school and Doodle [suffers] one bad cold after another”. After thinking Doodle has mental problems, the family realizes he is at a physical disability. The winter season casts a bad spell on Doodle and represents death and downfall. Spring and summer display progress, “Success lies at the end of summer like a pot of gold, and our campaign” starts very well. While Doodle starts excellently to his training, the progress of spring is cut short due to Brother’s pride. Campaigning for regularity Old Woman Swamp is the location of Doodle’s success during the spring. Inadequacies during the winter but advancement in the spring are the symbols for Doodle’s progress. Hurstexquisitely depicts these symbols beautifully in “The Scarlet Ibis gigantic hint to the beliefs of Doodle’s parents. This is important because this might be one of the reasons why Mama lets Doodle go with Brother because she also thinks he is invalid. Death, doubt, lack of faith, and pride are the symbols that connect with the tombstone.

The symbolism used in “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst impacts the story by indirectly giving the reader relationships between two objects or ideas. The three main symbols are the seasons, the go-cart, and the tombstone. These are proven by Doodle’s progress throughout the year, the hardship that Brother faces handling Doodle and the imminent death of the baby. Again, Hurst uses symbolism to describe Doodle’s family and all the emotions surrounding them.

07 July 2022

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