The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst Bleeding Tree Gardenia “Graveyard Flowers” Symbolism: A symbol is an object, person, animal or event that stands for something more than itself. Public Symbols are common and known to most people: ◦ Dove = peace ◦ cross = Christianity In literature, an author can invent a symbol linking an object to a character, or event in the story. Why Symbolism? All figurative language and stylistic devices are used to help convey the theme of the story. If you cannot figure out what a symbol stands for, think about the controlling ideas of the story, and your theme will lead you to understand the symbol. What does the scarlet ibis stand for? The bird is a rare, beautiful thing that is destroyed when it is blown out of its natural habitat Doodle is also a rare, beautiful thing that is destroyed when his brother tries to make him do things he cannot do. ◦ on a more allegorical level, both Doodle and the bird are symbolic of countries at war, who are destroyed when they try to control one another Other Symbols in the Story: The screech owls: in many cultures, the cry of an owl is an omen of death. The casket: obvious death symbol Wreaths are circles of plants or flowers that symbolize the circular nature of life, ending with death. They are often used to mark graves. The storms that blow the bird off course and cause Doodle’s death are symbolic of fear and chaos. Allegory An allegory is a story in which characters, settings and actions stand for something beyond themselves. These can be: ◦ abstract ideas (democracy, truth, innocence) ◦ historical figures and events Allegories can be read and interpreted on two levels: as a story that stands on its own, or as an allegory giving us lessons on life. Some Background Information The Scarlet Ibis is an allegory for countries who are at war and are destroyed when they try to control one another. Allusion Allusions are references to cultural things like history, other literature, or even popular figures. Authors expect the readers to know what they are talking about when they use allusions. Allusions are often hard for readers to identify and understand because, especially when we read older works, we do not share the cultural, historic and literary knowledge of the writer. Why use Allusions? Historical and geographical allusions help to set the scene – by telling us that the family talked about battles in WWI, we know the time period of The Scarlet Ibis. By mentioning President Wilson, we know that the story takes place during his administration Religious allusions help us understand a character’s belief system, which in turn helps us understand his or her actions. Why don’t I get these Allusions? Many literary allusions are just a way of an author showing his audience that he has the same cultural reference as they do. For example, if you are reading a story that mentions Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, you likely share some degree of who these characters are. But if the story mentions Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, you might have a better shared vision. Allusions to popular movie stars, TV shows, movies, or music may be easily understood now, but will be very hard for future generations to get. That’s why you don’t always get references in older literature. Grindstone: a round stone used to grind grain into flour (also called a millstone) “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6 New International Version (Bible) Why is the grindstone important? The Biblical Allusion says that someone who hurts children, or causes a child to sin, should be punished with a millstone. A grindstone is a kind of millstone. The narrator is partially responsible for the death of his brother, who is a child. Therefore, the allusion of the grindstone to a Biblical idea of punishment is important to the theme of the story. Other Allusions in The Scarlet Ibis “Of course, he wasn’t a crazy crazy like old Miss Leedie, who was in love with President Wilson . . .” (IR169). President Woodrow Wilson was the US President from 1913-1921 (During World War I) “And during that summer, strange names were heard through the house: Chateau-Thierry, Amiens, Soissons, and in her blessing at the supper table, Mama once said, ‘And bless the Pearsons, whose boy Joe was lost at Belleau Wood’”(IR177). These place names are references to World War I battles. Some really meaningful quotes: “I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death”(IR 174). This metaphor compares the narrator’s pride with a plant that can grow to be either a good or bad thing. It is a good thing that he challenges Doodle and makes his life more beautiful, but deadly in the end. “There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction, and at times I was mean to Doodle” (IR 172). Hurst uses this metaphor to show that the meanness of the narrator is tied up in him, but connected to Doodle by the love that brother’s share. It also foreshadows the destruction of Doodle. More Quotes of Note: “We’d bedeck ourselves with our handiwork and loll about thus beautified, beyond the touch of the everyday world” (IR 172). Symbolism Poster Assignment You will make a poster with the following: ◦ an image that shows something used as a symbol in The Scarlet Ibis. ◦ A paragraph telling what the symbol is, how it is used, and what it stands for in the story. Make sure you tell the author’s purpose for using the symbol, and tie it in to the theme. Use the TAG (Title, Author, Genre) in the topic sentence and use two quotes from the story that show the symbolism. Make it pretty and colorful. Paragraph is in pen or marker. I have card stock for you to do the final draft. Example Paragraph: In the allegorical story “The Scarlet Ibis”, James Hurst uses the symbol of the grindstone to show how causing his brother’s death has changed the narrator forever. In the opening paragraph, the scene is described as he looks out into the yard. “A grindstone stands where the bleeding tree stood, just outside the kitchen door…” (IR168). The grindstone is a reference to a millstone, symbolizing the Biblical punishment for harming a child. Hurst uses this symbol to indicate that the narrator is guilty for the death of Doodle. The grindstone is the catalyst for the narrator’s memory, as when, “as I sit in the cool, greendraped parlor, the grindstone begins to turn, and time with all its changes is ground away—and I remember Doodle” (IR168). This image is what reminds the narrator, now an adult, of his actions and blame for Doodle’s death. The author uses this image to symbolize a punishment that lasts the narrator for years. His shame reflects the mistakes he made in pushing his brother too hard. Example of Poster Examples Selection Vocabulary sullenly (adv.) – resentfully; gloomily imminent (adj.) – near, soon, about to happen iridescent (adj.) – rainbowlike; with shifting colors serene (adj.) – peaceful; calm infallibility (noun) – inability to make a mistake blighted (adj.) – suffering from disease that keeps growth from happening (usually referring to a plant disease) 7. doggedness (noun) – stubbornness; persistence 8. reiterated (verb) - repeated 9. precariously (adv.) – unsteadily; insecurely 10. mar (verb) – to damage; spoil 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.