The Scarlet Ibis
by James Hurst
The Scarlet Ibis Part 3 Summary
- Brother is ashamed of having a five-year-old brother that can't walk.
- (If Doodle is five now, that makes Brother about eleven, since Doodle was born when he was six.)
- As such, Brother decides to teach Doodle to walk down at Old Woman Swamp.
- It's springtime. The flowers have a smell of sadness.
- Doodle doesn't understand why he should learn to walk. Brother says it's so he won't have to lug Doodle around anymore.
- Doodle says he can't walk – his mother, and all the other people have told him he can't.
- Brother tells him he's sure he can walk.
- The first time Brother lifts him to standing, Doodle falls, "as if he ha[s] no bones in his little legs" (3.7).
- Doodle warns Brother to be gentle. Brother says, "Shut up. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm going to teach you how to walk" (3.9).
- It seems impossible. They try and try and Doodle keeps falling.
- Brother doesn't give up because he wants to be "proud" of Doodle (3.12). He's unaware "that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death" (3.12).
- (Hmmm. How can pride bring both life and death? Read on and you'll see. Also be sure to check out "Pride" in "Themes.")
- When Doodle seems at the point of giving up, Brother asks him if he still wants to be pulled in the go-cart when both of them are old men. This always motivated Doodle to keep trying.
- After "many weeks of practicing" Doodle finally stands up (3.14).
- They are both super-excited.
- Keeping their secret from the family until actual walking is accomplished, Brother and Doodle practice and practice.
- When "cotton-picking" time comes around they decide to show the family, even though Doodle can only take a few steps at a time.
- They promise the family "a most spectacular surprise" on Doodle's sixth birthday, October 8.
- Aunt Nicey says they need to give a surprise on scale with "the Resurrection" (3.15). (In Christian theology, the Resurrection is the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.)
- On Doodle's birthday morning, Brother brings Doodle around in the go-cart, and asks the family to turn around, and promise not to look. When Doodle gets to his feet, Brother lets them have a look.
- Doodle walks to his seat at the table.
- Everybody is crying and hugging Doodle.
- Aunt Nicey is "thanks praying in the doorway" and Brother goes to her and makes her dance with him until she steps on his toe "with her brogans [thick, heavy shoes]" (3.16).
- When the family learns that Brother taught Doodle to walk they hug him, too.
- He cries.
- When Daddy asks Brother why he is crying, he can't tell him. Brother is crying because he's teaching Doodle to walk for his owns selfish reasons. He's a "slave" to "pride," and is "ashamed of having a crippled brother" (3.18).
- A few months later Doodle is walking like a champ. The go-cart is stored in the barn next to the coffin. It will still be there when the narrator remembers Doodle in the future.
- Brother and Doodle go everywhere together.
- They begin "lying" to "pass the time" (3.20). Doodle starts the lying, and gets Brother hooked on it.
- Brother thinks (in the future) that if they had been overheard they "would have been sent off to Dix Hill" (3.20). (Dix Hill refers to the Dorothea Dix Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. So, we know the story is probably set near Raleigh.)
- Doodle's "lies" are the best (3.21). The characters in his stories all have wings and they fly instead of walking.
- Doodle and Brother have plans for the future.
- They will live at the swamp, earning a living from the sale of "dog-tongue" (a plant probably used for medicinal purposes in the time and place of the story's setting.)
- They want their parents to live with them at the swamp.
- Doodle gets it in his head "that he could marry Mama, and [Brother] could marry Daddy" (3.22).
- Brother is pretty sure this isn't the best plan, even though Doodle's description of it is "so beautiful and serene" that Brother agrees (3.22).
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