There are multiple literary elements that combine together to create the theme and mood of a story. In the short story, “The Scarlet Ibis,” the author, James Hurst, demonstrates the use of literary elements and the importance of vital life lessons. The mood in this short story is deeply nostalgic and melancholy. The narrator faces the difficult obstacle of his pride vs. Himself (which is also the critical theme of the story). In the story, Hurst uses the elements of setting, foreshadowing, and symbolism to create a bittersweet, nostalgic memory of the character of Doodle.
Various examples of how the setting reveals the mood of a story are found in “The Scarlet Ibis. ” One specific example was at the beginning of the story where the author wrote “summer was dead, but autumn had not yet been born when the ibis came to the bleeding tree. ” This sentence was the setting of the entire story and transmitted a thought that death would probably come in later somewhere in the story – and it did for both Doodle and the Scarlet Ibis. The storm that was occurring seconds before Doodle died was also an example of setting.
When the narrator said “When we reached Horsehead landing, lightning was flashing across half the sky, and thunder was drowning out the sound of the sea,” the mood quickly escalated to alarming and frightening, and it gave the reader more suspense. Literally seconds after this mood is created, the narrator goes back to this tree where his little brother Doodle is lying dead with blood dripping from his lips. In “The Scarlet Ibis” the author demonstrates the use of foreshadowing to develop the mood to come later on in the story.
The use of foreshadowing can develop the mood of an event before it happens in the story. Examples of this in the story are the “hints of death” that come out towards the reader such as when the Scarlet Ibis died, Aunt Nicey said that red birds were dangerous and unlucky, and Doodle ended up dying bright red. Another example of how foreshadowing develops the mood is that when Doodle was little, his family named him William Armstrong. The narrator then said “such a name sounds good only on a tombstone.
” These examples of foreshadowing create a somber and solemn mood in the story because it is thought that even though actual death may not have yet happened in the story, the reader will still know that either death or something tragic likely will occur later in the story based on the wording the author chooses. Authors use symbols to add deeper meaning to certain people or objects in a story. Symbols affect the mood because the mood depends on the symbols the writer uses to define the it without having to directly state the mood or theme intended in the story.
An example of symbolism in the story is the narrator’s pride. In “The Scarlet Ibis,” the narrator’s pride gets the best of him, therefore his pride equals danger. When trying to teach Doodle how to do the basic abilities of a child his age, the narrator went way too far and overworked Doodle because he didn’t want to be made fun of because of his “special” brother that couldn’t do anything. In the end, the narrator ended up straining and exhausting Doodle to where Doodle’s body and weak heart could take no more and he passed away.
In this short story, the Scarlet Ibis symbolized Doodle in numerous ways. Both Doodle and the Scarlet Ibis were called “special” and “unlucky” when they were born. They were also both found dead on the ground the color bright red which is a symbol of blood. Finally, both Doodle and the Scarlet Ibis had come a surprisingly long way from where they started. At the first of the story, Doodle was believed not to even live a couple of days, but he pulled through and worked hard in learning how to walk, row, and do other basic activities.
As he kept trying to do more and more work each day, it put more and more stress and pain on his body and his weak heart, he overworked himself, and therefore, his body gave up under all the pressure. When the narrator’s family found the Scarlet Ibis dead, it was noticeable that it had flown from somewhere extensively far away. The Scarlet Ibis and Doodle did the exact same thing – they tried to work themselves more to hopefully accomplish more in the long run, but ultimately ended up killing themselves because their bodies weren’t made strong and proficient, they were made fragile and delicate.
In “The Scarlet Ibis,” the author, James Hurst, clearly defines the valuable message of not letting pride get the best of one. This use of life lessons and other literary elements helped to exemplify the themes demonstrated in the story – setting, foreshadowing, and symbolism. Hurst’s style of descriptive and creative writing genuinely told the reader the importance of a supportive family and community in this Southern short story.