The Scarlet Ibis PPT

The Scarlet Ibis
by James Hurst
Bleeding Tree
“Graveyard Flowers”
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
What does the scarlet ibis stand
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
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.
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
Some Background Information
The Scarlet Ibis is an allegory for
countries who are at war and are
destroyed when they try to control one
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
 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
“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
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
 Make it pretty and colorful. Paragraph is in pen or
marker. I have card stock for you to do the final
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
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
7. doggedness (noun) – stubbornness; persistence
8. reiterated (verb) - repeated
9. precariously (adv.) – unsteadily; insecurely
10. mar (verb) – to damage; spoil
Related flashcards
Create Flashcards