The Scarlet Ibis
by James Hurst
The Scarlet Ibis Theme of Pride
Pride is confusing. We are supposed to take pride in the way we look and act. But, we're not supposed to be so proud that we look down at others, or refuse to do things that need to be done. Similarly, "The Scarlet Ibis" shows that it's nice to be proud of people we care about, but pride can be harmful to them if we push them into doing things that are not in their best interest. The story explores a variety of facets of pride from the perspective of Brother, a young man whose pride becomes a destructive force in his life. In his case, pride is closely linked with shame and embarrassment over his younger brother's physical limitations. This very normal emotion has tragic results, the memory of which will keep Brother on the alert for pride for the rest of his life.
Questions About Pride
- What does the word "pride" mean to you? What are some negative things you've heard about pride? Some positive things? Can you relate them to the story?
- What does Brother mean when he says he's a "slave" to "pride"? (3.18)
- Is the family proud of Doodle when he learns to walk? Is Doodle proud of himself? Is there enough information to answer the question?
- Does Brother accomplish anything he should be proud of in the story? If so, is he proud of it? How do you know?
- Brother says, "I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death" (3.12). In what ways does pride bring about both life and death in the story?
- What are some of the ways the story defines pride?
Chew on This
The story defines pride as having the potential do enhance "life" and bring "death" (4.12).
Brother defines pride as being ashamed of someone and trying to change them into someone to be proud of.