Dante Alighieri once said, “Avarice, envy, pride, three fatal sparks, have set the hearts of all on Fire.” In the short story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst, it shows how pride can be beneficial in some ways, and harmful in other ways. The story starts out as the narrator of the story has a recollection of his past when his younger brother Doodle was still alive. The narrator tells how everyone believed Doodle is crippled mentally and physically. However, Doodle is a normal human being mentally, but has some difficulties physically.
The narrator wants Doodle to become a “normal” boy, so he teaches him to practically all the activities any boy Doodle’s age would do. One day, Doodle and the narrator were playing in the fields. A large storm came and both had to run home before it became too hard to handle. Doodle started running after his brother, but couldn’t withstand it, and eventually, his stamina died down and had to rest. The narrator felt ticked off by Doodle and deserted him. A few minutes later, the narrator discovered Doodle under a tree, blood trickling from his mouth, dead. In the short story “The Scarlet ibis” by James Hurst, it shows how pride can be beneficial in some ways, and harmful in other ways.
Pride of the narrator teaches a physically deprived little boy Doodle how to walk and gives him the same amenities as every other normal child. The pride of the narrator, “I [he] am going to teach Doodle how to walk” (170). Pride, in this instance, gives the narrator enough courage and vigor to help another human being in a positive way.
The world needs more people such as the narrator, who is willing to benefit other’s lives in a tenderhearted way, to make another’s life better and happier. For example, “It’s so pretty, so pretty, pretty, pretty” (170). One’s pride can truly take the simple pleasures in life and make someone happy. The narrator does a simple task by taking his brother down to the swamp. By that action, Doodle is enthralled in happiness because he sees something he has never seen before. Having pride can be beneficial in many ways; however, having too much pride can be pernicious.
In the story, the narrator’s pride sometimes takes him over and eventually kills his brother Doodle. At the end of the story, the narrator “…as I [He] lay sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain” (176). The narrator’s carelessness and great amount of pride in himself as well as in Doodle ends up in the death of Doodle. The narrator feels his job is complete, and feels Doodle’s need for assistance has come to an end.
The choice the narrator makes in not helping Doodle run home is tragic, since a life could have been saved if the narrator had helped his brother. Another reason having too much pride can be harmful and destructive is “they did no know that I did it for myself; that pride whose slave I was spoke to me louder than all their voices and that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother” (173).
The narrator’s actions for teaching his brother to walk is supposedly to make it easier on himself by not having to drag his brother everywhere he goes, which is unfortunate because he isn’t teaching Doodle for a positive cause. The brother’s kind heart suddenly turned sour because his pride taught his brother to walk just for the benefit of himself (the narrator.) There is a large contrast between having pride and having too much pride; having some pride can be beneficial in some circumstances, but having too much pride can be hurtful.
Pride does have limitations: having pride to an extent is subsidiary, but having too much pride isn’t; its harmful. Having too much pride can distract someone away from his or her main objective and often makes that person carried away. As shown in the story, the narrator’s pride helped his brother Doodle walk; but the narrator’s pride also killed his brother. A lesson to be learned is: pride goes to an extent. Don’t overuse it. Like the saying goes, looks can be deceiving.