Ms. Tanya BolerEnglish Composition II.
September 2015 Thin Line Between Love and Hate The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst tells a story of two brothers, Brother and Doodle. Brother is narrating the tale from an adult perspective. Doodle’s life is very difficult, everyone thought he was going to perish; he pulled through because of love with a small twist of wickedness. Furthermore, Brother only wants to help Doodle to correspond with other children because he wants to avoid embarrassment of having a younger brother who cannot walk, this is only a battle with his self worth. As the narrative continues, Hurst utilizes three symbols to show the complexity of sibling relationships. The first symbol is the application of seasons.
The story begins talking about seasons in this quotation, “It was in the clove of the seasons, summer was dead, but autumn had not yet been born, that the ibis lit on the bleeding tree.” This quote can be translated easily to say, “Doodle died after the ibis died.” But that is surely no way to commence a story. The narrator decides to call for a secretive approach. The segment in between seasons is a clove. This is really ironic that Doodle’s death is in the clove. Not saying that the clove is a very dangerous place.
Ever heard the idiom, “Slip through the crack?” If someone is being neglected or ignored, that is said to have slipped through the crack. This is happening to Doodle, he is slipping into the clove of love and hate. He is being neglected on many accounts by brother. Although brother is trying to prevent him from being neglected, he is only pushing him closer to his death..
The second symbol is the use of the color red. The author is exposing the message with the use of the color red. The author metaphorically paints Doodle’s life red. Hurst continues to bring out the significance of this color to understand the emotion of this story. Throughout history, the color red has been used to symbolize death and love. These symbols aid the author in connecting doodle to brother and brother to nature.
Furthermore, the narrator is taking the reader through several uses of this color in the story. The first employment of this color is when the bird dies. Doodle refers to the bird as a broken vase of red flowers, red flowers represent love and compassion. Doodle feels compassion for the foreign bird because there is an underlying connectedness between the two. The bleeding tree which the ibis dies from a disastrous fall, was the second usage.
The name of this tree has a deeper meaning; the adjective bleeding, would paint a picture of blood in the reader’s mind. Blood symbolizes life, whether it means giving or taking it away. Doodle dies in front of a red nightshade bush. His brother feels guilty for pushing him to hard. He begins to show compassion for Doodle in this phrase, “Sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain.
” The color red is revealing the hidden compassion brother has for Doodle. The third symbol is the grindstone. A grindstone is used for sharpening working tools or objects. There is an idiomatic expression, “Keep one’s nose to the grindstone.
” This simply means to work really hard, but when you place someone else to the grindstone it will only end in disaster. The grindstone is first introduced in this phrase, “A grindstone stands where the bleeding tree stood, just outside the kitchen door.” Now with this being said, the grindstone is not simply taking the place of the tree, but it is serving as a constant reminder of Doodle’s death.
The symbolism of the grindstone is working great because remembering Doodle is very atrocious. Like tools sharpened by a grindstone, the memory of Doodle has the ability to metaphorically shred Brother. On the other hand, a grindstone also holds a biblical meaning.
Emphasized by Matthew, “Anyone who hurts a child should be punished with a millstone” (King James Bible, Mat. 28-6). A grindstone is also recognized as a millstone.
Thus, the biblical meaning of this object is stating that brother should be punished because he is responsible for his brother’s death.