Pride Goeth Before a Fall. The Scarlet Ibis Analysis Example

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 854 Pages: 4
  • Published: 12 May 2021
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A popular proverb says ¨Pride goeth before a fall,¨ this is certainly the case in the short story ¨The Scarlet Ibis¨. In this story, written by James Hurst, a young North Carolinian wants nothing more than a brother. However, what he gets is much more than he bargained for. Throughout ¨The Scarlet Ibis¨, Hurst uses characterization, conflict, and symbolism to convey the idea that you should not let your pride get to you and to appreciate what you are given.

To begin, Hurst uses characterization to convey the theme. In the text, it states, ¨He was a burden in many ways… A long list of don’ts went with him, all of which I ignored once we got out of the house¨ (352). One of the main characters in ¨The Scarlet Ibis¨ is the narrator. He is a big brother to Doodle and is the one who, throughout the story, tries to change Doodle into something he is not. He continuously makes Doodle learn things such as walking and swimming to make him into what he thinks a normal boy should be able to do.

The narrator is unable to accept that Doodle is unlike everyone else and because of that he lost Doodle due to his pride getting in the way of a valuable relationship. Another piece of text that illustrates characterization conveying to the theme is ¨ ‘I’m going to bury him’… we watched Doodle through the open door… he carried the bird around to the front yard and dug a hole… ¨ (359).  Another main character that is introduced in the story is Doodle. He is everything that the narrator is not. Throughout the story, Doodle is portrayed as kind-hearted and compassionate. He is always trying to please his brother by trying to do what the narrator wants even if it means he is forced to change. Near the end of the story, he is also seen trying to help the scarlet ibis that ended up in their yard and seems to treasure it when he tries to give the bird a peaceful experience before its death unlike the narrator with Doodle. Because of these characters and their contrast, Hurst is able to emphasize the theme of “The Scarlet Ibis” with characterization.

Furthermore, conflict helps to convey the theme. According to the text, “It was bad enough having an invalid brother, but having one who possibly was not all there was unbearable” (35 ) In the story a prevalent conflict in the story is the narrator wanting his brother, Doodle, to live up to his expectations. Because Doodle is unable to, the narrator forces him to change and become what he wants in an ideal brother. A theme in the story is to appreciate what you are given. If the narrator had done this, Doodle would have not pushed himself and could possibly still have been alive. Another example of conflict is on page 357: “it was Saturday noon, just a few days before school was to start. I should have already admitted defeat, but my pride wouldn’t let me.”

As the story progresses, we can see that the narrator is in conflict with his pride. He knows when Doodle is unable to do certain activities but continues to make him do it in order to make Doodle like everyone else. This leads to Doodle’s death as he will not stop pushing him. If the narrator would have accepted Doodle and stop letting his pride get in the way, Doodle would still be alive. Therefore, the various conflicts shown in the story successfully demonstrate two of the story’s themes.

 Lastly, the symbolism in the story shows the theme. For instance, “the bird began to flutter, but the wings were uncoordinated… it tumbled down, bumping through the limbs of the bleeding tree and landing at our feet with a thud” (358). The largest symbol in the story is the scarlet ibis. It represents Doodle and who he is. He is incredibly similar to the bird as they both are described as fragile and physically flawed. When the scarlet ibis is introduced in the story he is out of place and far from where he is supposed to be, which can be comparable to Doodle who is also out of place because of what he is unable to be.

Near the end of the story, the narrator states, “his neck and the front of his shirt were stained with a brilliant red.” Doodle, at the end of the story, is depicted as the scarlet ibis. The description of the blood that stains his shirt is the same as the color of the scarlet ibis itself. The narrator also calls Doodle his fallen scarlet ibis in the very last sentence of the story. He begins to realize that Doodle was unlike anyone else and he should have appreciated him for what he was because now he was gone. For this reason, symbolism is used to help illustrate the theme. 

An author is able to help demonstrate the theme of a story through a variety of devices. Hurst uses characters like the narrator and Doodle, and a conflict between these characters to help demonstrate two of the main themes in the story. He also uses the scarlet ibis as a symbol to convey the message of the story. These are the main devices that James Hurst uses throughout “The Scarlet Ibis” to help illustrate the idea that you should not let your pride get to you and appreciate what you are given.



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