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    A Summary of The Scarlet Ibis, a Short Story by James Hurst

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    The Scarlet Ibis centers on the lives of two brothers, one named William Armstrong and the older brother, unnamed throughout the story.

    The big brother of a child named William Armstrong sits in a cold parlor one day, the season beginning to near autumn. He thinks for a while, his thoughts lingering on the past. He thinks of Doodle.

    Doodle is the big brother’s affectionate nickname for his little brother, William Armstrong. At the age of 7, the big brother witnessed William step into the world. Only his head seemed the best developed; the rest of his body was very small and shriveled up. Because of his unhealthy, appearance, no one expected him to live long and his parents anticipated his death; their father had a carpenter build a small coffin for him. Because he couldn’t walk, their father built William a cart.

    Though he seemed annoyed at first by having to drag him around everywhere he went (the little brother cried to go with him every time), the big brother began to come around to Doodle and have a genuine love and care for him. They both have a love for the beauty of Old Woman Swamp, a place that both brothers admire very much. They visited there often.

    At age 13, the big brother began to feel embarrassed of Doodle’s inability to walk. One day at Old Woman Swamp, he tells the now 5-year-old that he will be taught to walk. The big brother helps him up on his legs and lets go. He fell into the grass. A second attempt to get him to walk failed, as well as a third attempt and so on.

    There was this determination in the big brother to get him to walk, a passion that the big brother describes as “…something to be proud of, and Doodle had become my something”. One day it rewards him. Doodle managed to stand unassisted for several moments before falling once more. Both brothers laughed and smiled, knowing that the ability to walk was well within reach now.

    Later on the brothers decide to surprise their parents with this. Bringing Doodle to the door through the cart, the big brother helped Doodle up. To the amazement of their parents, Doodle manages to successfully walk from the door to the table, sitting down. They embrace him and the big brother once he tells them he taught him how to walk. He begins to cry out of guilt because he didn’t teach him out of the goodness of his heart; he was embarrassed about having a disabled brother. The father asks why he’s crying but the big brother doesn’t answer.

    Within a matter of months, Doodle masters walking. The big brother becomes confident that he could teach him anything, and as he learns more Doodle begins to share this confidence with him. He learns how to run, swim and a lot more. It proved to be too much as Doodle collapses one day. The big brother motivates him to keep going, saying that being different makes a difference.

    The death of a scarlet ibis interrupts a Saturday noon dinner. Doodle runs outside to investigate. The entire family follows to witness the last moments of the bird. They sadly stare thinking about how long it had traveled before its life was cut short. Doodle decides to bury him.

    After dinner, Doodle and his big brother head off to Horsehead Landing for a swimming lesson., though Doodle was reluctant to go because of tiredness. A thunderstorm in the skies and the seas made for a harsh weather. Doodle’s ability to walk begins to fail as he slipped and fell on mud. A shameful smile acknowledged it.

    The big brother hears a tree shattering and his little brother calling out for him not to leave him. He ran away, expecting Doodle to follow. After a pause he goes back and finds him under a bush. The big brother tells him it’s time to go, to no response. He picks his head up to find a mouth full of blood that spread down to his neck and shirt. In the pouring rain, the big brother never let go of him.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    A Summary of The Scarlet Ibis, a Short Story by James Hurst. (2022, Dec 14). Retrieved from

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