In James Hurst’s short story, “The Scarlet Ibis”, the author uses techniques such as imagery, language, and nature to tell the story of the narrator’s little brother, Doodle, and to show how pride and spite lead to the downfall of characters. Imagery is used when the scarlet ibis and the brother are compared, language is used when introducing the brother, and nature is used when describing the narrator’s actions. When the scarlet ibis is found in the tree, the family is both impressed and sad when it dies.
The death of the scarlet ibis foreshadows the fate of Doodle, as later in the book her becomes the scarlet ibis when he and the narrator are running home and he dies. Pride and spite lead to his death because if his brother had not been proud, he never would have pushed Doodle to learn how to walk, run, or swim. He is embarassed by Doodle’s inability to do these things, leading him for push his brother. He desires for Doodle to be a ‘normal kid’ when he starts school. Spite plays in when they are running through the rain, as the narrator states, “.
..the flood of childish spite evanesced as well (6).” In this passage, the author implies that nothing lasts for long, as niether the narrator’s spite nor his brother’s life do. Hurst uses language when introducing Doodle. He is described as “.
..just about the craziest brother a boy could have. Of course, he wasn’t crazy crazy…
(1)”. The narrator talks about how Doodle’s health issues cause him great shame, resulting in him teaching Doodle to do things he might not otherwise have done. Pride is important here, because if the narrator was not proud, the story would have been very different. When the narrator began to teach Doodle to do things that were unimportant to anything besides the narrator’s pride, he bagan Doodle’s downfall as he started to work his brother to death. Doodle’s downfall is the narrator’s downfall as well.
Human nature is an important theme in the story because it is behind the narrator’s drive to have a ‘normal brother’, and the greath lengths he will go to to achieve this. This is shown in the passage, “It was bad enough having an invalid brother, but having one who possibly was not all there was unbareable so (sic) began to make plans to kill him by smothering him with a pillow (1)”. The author implies here that the narrator is appalled by his brother’s state, and is afraid of being judged by his classmates, leading to his plans to kill his brother. Another effect Doodle’s condition has on the family is that the parents have a coffin built for him before he is even dead. Therefore, in “The Scarlet Ibis”, James Hurst develops the themes of pride and spite using imagery, language, and nature.
He develops the characters using their actions driven by pride and spite, and shows how these flaws of human nature lead to their downfalls.