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Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis

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Words: 720 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 720|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Vibrant Color of the Scarlet Ibis
  2. The Fragility of the Scarlet Ibis
  3. The Demise of the Scarlet Ibis
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

The Scarlet Ibis, a short story by James Hurst, is a touching tale about a disabled boy named Doodle and his relationship with his older brother. Throughout the story, Hurst skillfully uses symbolism to convey deeper meanings and emotions. One recurring symbol is the scarlet ibis, a beautiful bird that becomes a powerful representation of Doodle's unique and fragile nature. By examining the various instances in which the scarlet ibis appears in the text, it becomes clear that Doodle is best symbolized by this bird. Through its vibrant color, fragility, and ultimate demise, the scarlet ibis serves as a poignant symbol of Doodle's own journey.

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The Vibrant Color of the Scarlet Ibis

One of the key characteristics of the scarlet ibis that aligns with Doodle is its vibrant color. The scarlet ibis is described as having "red, as red as a bloodstain" (Hurst 3), a striking hue that sets it apart from its surroundings. Similarly, Doodle is often associated with the color red. At his birth, his parents expect him to die, and his mother states, "He's going to die, isn't he?" (Hurst 2). This statement foreshadows the significance of the color red in Doodle's life. Red is often associated with danger, passion, and intensity, all of which are present in Doodle's journey. Just as the scarlet ibis stands out in its natural habitat, Doodle stands out in his family and community due to his physical limitations. The vibrant color of the scarlet ibis thus serves as a powerful symbol for Doodle's unique and vibrant spirit.

The Fragility of the Scarlet Ibis

In addition to its color, the fragility of the scarlet ibis aligns with Doodle's own delicate nature. The bird is described as having "fragile body, whose thin layer of feathers was delicate as the petals of a flower" (Hurst 3). This delicate nature is mirrored in Doodle's own physical condition. Born with a weak heart, he is not expected to live long. However, with the support and encouragement of his brother, he manages to defy expectations and develop his own unique abilities. Despite his progress, Doodle remains physically fragile, just like the scarlet ibis. The bird's fragility serves as a reminder of the precariousness of Doodle's existence, as well as the vulnerability that comes with being different. Hurst uses the fragility of the scarlet ibis to emphasize the challenges and obstacles that Doodle faces on his journey to self-acceptance.

The Demise of the Scarlet Ibis

Perhaps the most poignant symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis lies in the ultimate demise of the bird. In the story, the scarlet ibis is found dead in a tree, having been pushed beyond its limits by a violent storm. This tragic ending serves as a foreshadowing of Doodle's own fate. Despite his progress and determination, Doodle's physical limitations ultimately prove insurmountable. As the story reaches its climax, Doodle's brother pushes him to run faster than he is capable, and in the process, Doodle collapses and dies. This parallel between the scarlet ibis and Doodle's fate highlights the interconnectedness of their narratives. Just as the bird is pushed to its limits and ultimately perishes, so too is Doodle pushed beyond his capabilities, resulting in his tragic end. The demise of the scarlet ibis serves as a powerful symbol of the fragility and vulnerability of Doodle's life and the consequences of pushing him too far.

Conclusion

In conclusion, James Hurst masterfully employs symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis to convey deeper meanings and emotions. The scarlet ibis, with its vibrant color, fragility, and ultimate demise, becomes a poignant symbol of Doodle's unique and fragile nature. Through this symbol, Hurst explores themes of uniqueness, vulnerability, and the tragic consequences of pushing one beyond their limits. By examining the instances in which the scarlet ibis appears in the text, it becomes evident that Doodle is best symbolized by this bird. The scarlet ibis serves as a reminder of the beauty and complexity of Doodle's journey, as well as the importance of accepting and cherishing those who are different. Hurst's use of symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis elevates the story from a simple tale of brotherly love to a profound exploration of human nature and the power of symbols.

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Bibliography

Hurst, James. "The Scarlet Ibis." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, edited by X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, 13th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 3-10.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/symbolism-in-the-scarlet-ibis/
“Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/symbolism-in-the-scarlet-ibis/
Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/symbolism-in-the-scarlet-ibis/> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
Symbolism in The Scarlet Ibis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/symbolism-in-the-scarlet-ibis/
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