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The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst

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1 The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst
Feature Menu Introducing the Story Literary Focus: Symbols Reading Skills: Making Inferences from Details

2 The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst

3 The Scarlet Ibis Introducing the Story
I thought myself pretty smart at many things . . .

4 The Scarlet Ibis Introducing the Story
In “The Scarlet Ibis” the narrator tells of his experience growing up with his physically disabled brother, Doodle, on a farm in the South. The narrator develops a bond with his younger brother and teaches him to walk. But he learns a tragic lesson when he pushes Doodle too hard. I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death. —from “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst [End of Section]

5 The Scarlet Ibis Literary Focus: Symbols
A symbol is an object, event, person, or animal that stands for something more than itself. Symbols are all around you in your everyday life. Their special meanings have been handed down over time.

6 The Scarlet Ibis Literary Focus: Symbols
In “The Scarlet Ibis,” you’ll notice similarities and links between one character and a bird. Pay attention to how the author makes a symbolic connection between the character and the bird. This symbolism can help deepen your understanding of the character. [End of Section]

7 The Scarlet Ibis Reading Skills: Making Inferences from Details
As you read a story, you make inferences, or educated guesses, about what the writer is trying to say. You can base your inferences on your own prior knowledge and on evidence from the text. Prior Knowledge about how stories work about your own life experiences Evidence from Text descriptions setting dialogue Inference + =

8 The Scarlet Ibis Reading Skills: Making Inferences from Details
One way to make better inferences is to notice important details in the story. Details may seem insignificant at first, but most writers choose details carefully to help convey a certain meaning or message. Colors, seasons, names, times, objects, animals, and clothing—almost any little thing can help you make inferences about meaning.

9 The Scarlet Ibis Reading Skills: Making Inferences from Details
Pay attention to details as you read “The Scarlet Ibis,” and practice making inferences. Keep track of the little things: trees colors flowers animals gestures weather What larger meanings can you infer from these details? [End of Section]

10 The Scarlet Ibis Background
The story is set in the American South. Its climax takes place in 1918, the year World War I ended. You’ll find references in the story to battles being fought far away from its peaceful southern setting. As you read, think about why the author chose this setting. The physical setting— American South in 1918 The historical setting— end of World War I [End of Section]

11 Quickwrite

12 The Scarlet Ibis Quickwrite
Make the Connection Make a list of situations that might make someone feel proud. Is pride positive or negative—can it be both? Jot down your thoughts about what it means to be proud. [End of Section]

13 Meet the Writer

14 The Scarlet Ibis Meet the Writer
James Hurst was born on a farm in coastal North Carolina in After studying at North Carolina State College, he served in the army during World War II. Hurst wants readers of “The Scarlet Ibis” to think of how the war raging among “brothers” in Europe is related to the conflict between Doodle and his brother. Perhaps, he reflects, people always suffer when others try to make them over in their own image. More About the Writer [End of Section]

15 Agree or Disagree? 1. I am thankful for my siblings. 2. I am sometimes jealous of my siblings. 3. I am often embarrassed by my siblings. 4. I have pushed what I wanted onto another person I care about only to regret it later. 5. I want to feel proud of my family members.

16 Agree or Disagree, continued
6. I am uncomfortable with someone who has a physical or mental handicap. 7. My pride has gotten the best of me, only for me to regret it later. 8. If I have hurt someone and know it, I apologize. 9. My siblings know that I love them. 10. I have found myself taking advantage of my siblings even though I know that is wrong.

17 Ideas to Consider “At times I was mean to Doodle. One day I took him up to the barn loft and showed him his casket, telling him how we all believed he would die.” Predict: How might the relationship between the two brothers affect the story? “The Scarlett Ibis” reveals that cruelty and selfishness can be entwined with love. Motivated by pride and self-interest, the narrator helps his disabled brother learn to walk and swim. Not satisfied, the narrator pushes for more. Only later does the narrator realize the depth of his feelings for his brother.

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