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The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis

by James Hurst

Transformation Theme

"The Scarlet Ibis" is set over a period of about seven years, the span of the life of Doodle, a young boy with a heart condition. Over the course of those seven years Doodle and his family undergo extreme transformations. Some of these are heartwarming, like when Doodle learns to walk when everyone assumes he never wood, or when Brother and Doodle change from mere brothers into fast friends. Other transformations, like Brother's movement from loving teacher to hard taskmaster, are more difficult to read about. One of the most interesting transformations occurs in Brother's mind. It concerns Doodle and the scarlet ibis (the bird, not the story). Read all about it in "What's Up With the Title?"

Questions About Transformation

  1. What are some of the big changes Doodle experiences in the story? What about Brother?
  2. Do Mama and Daddy change throughout the story? If so, how? If not, is their lack of change positive, negative?
  3. How does the hurricane transform the area?
  4. Who changes the most?
  5. Does seeing the ibis change Doodle? If so, how? If not, why not?

Chew on This

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

"The Scarlet Ibis" suggests that painful memories can be transformed into art.

Doodle's death transforms Brother into a person haunted by guilt.

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