"The Scarlet Ibis" is the story of a boy, Brother, who accidentally contributes to the death of his younger brother, Doodle. Brother tells the story in the past tense, and explicitly states that it's a memory of something that happened in his past. Memories of his time with Doodle are sometimes sweet, and sometimes excruciatingly painful, at least for the reader. We hold Brother's hand on his perilous trek down memory lane. At times we think he's driving himself mad with memory. That he lives in the past, ruled by mistakes he can't change. On a happier note, we also explore the possibility that memory can be used to understand and cope with the moments in our life that hurt, but that that we don't ever want to forget.
The references to Word War I are important because they connect Doodle's death to the death of young men in the war.
"The Scarlet Ibis" argues that memory is a tool that can be used to help a person cope with painful experiences.