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The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

Love Theme

"The Scarlet Ibis" is a grim story, but it comes from a place of love, and kindness. Brother and Doodle, the two brothers who star in this story, have a loving mother, father, and aunt. Their home in North Carolina is a fantasy paradise for kids. Doodle, the younger brother, was born with a heart condition, and has physical limitations, especially when compared with his super-athletic older brother. Since cardiology, the branch of medicine that deals with the heart, was in its infancy in the early 1900s when the story is set, the family isn't quite sure how to deal with this issue, and tragedy ensues as a result. Brother's memory of Doodle is a labor of love he undertakes at the risk of not loving himself enough.

Questions About Love

  1. Does Brother use the word "love" in the story? If so, where? If not, are we correct in saying love is a major theme?
  2. Does Mama express love for Brother? What about Daddy? Can you tell how his parents feel about him? If so, how? If not, why might this be left out of the story?
  3. Are there moments in the text when characters show affection for each other? If so, what are some of these moments? If not, does that mean they don't feel affection for each other? Explain your answer in terms of individual relationships between characters.
  4. Is Aunt Nicey loving?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

We can tell that Brother and Doodle are loved because they always get enough to eat; the scenes featuring the family eating are crucial in showing that Doodle and Brother live in a loving home.

Te fact that Daddy bought a coffin for his infant baby before the baby was dead causes readers to question Daddy's love for his son.

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