The Foreshadowing of Doodle’s Death

The scarlet ibis, a famous short story by James Hurst. This piece of writing will touch on how Doodle’s death is foreshadowed throughout the story.

Foreshadowing is a technique used by many writers to hint about an event that will happen in the later part of the story. It is a useful technique as it adds suspense to the story and lets the reader read on. In the story “The Scarlet Ibis”, James Hurst foreshadows the death of Doodle through a number of ways like symbolism, allusion and mood.

       The mood of the story at the very start indicates that Doodle will be dead as it registers death and sadness. The very first sentence saying “summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born” already gives us a hint about someone dying. This is emphasized by the fact that the “untenanted” oriole nest “rocked back and forth like and empty cradle”. A cradle will normally represent someone being born, but in this case it was empty, thus someone dead. The narrator then remembers Doodle as the last graveyard flowers “spoke softly the name of our dead” foreshadows the death of Doodle. Doodle real name, William Armstrong, “sound good only on a tombstone”, again foreshadows the death of Doodle. As this creates a mood of death and sadness while the narrator is thinking about Doodle, this shows that Doodle is dead when he was having this flashback, foreshadowing Doodle’s death.

       The allusion between Doodle and Jesus also plays a part in foreshadowing Doodle’s death. As Aunt Nicey mentioned, Doodle was “born in a caul” which was “made from Jesus’ nightgown” suggests that Doodle may die as Jesus was dead once. The allusion with the time the story took place, which is World War 1, also indicates that Doodle may not survive as wars always have people sacrificing and dying. The two allusions with Jesus Christ himself and World War 1 foreshadow the death of Doodle.

       The most important way James Hurst used to foreshadow Doodle’s death is symbolism. In the story, it is evident that the scarlet ibis symbolizes Doodle and his spirit as they share a lot of similarities. Since the scarlet ibis represented Doodle, the fact that it died suggests that Doodle will die at the end of the story as well. The way they died was almost the same too. When the scarlet ibis died, its “long, graceful neck jerked twice into an S, then straightened out”, which is similar to Doodle as his “vermillion neck appeared unusually long and slim”. The scarlet ibis’ feet “delicately curved at rest” while Doodle’s little legs were “bent sharply at the knees”. His shirt was also “stained a brilliant red” by blood, similar to the ibis which looked like “a broken vase of red flowers”. The narrator felt that the sight of Doodle’s death “looked very familiar”, indicating the similarity between the death scenes of Doodle and the scarlet ibis. Doodle was very interested in the scarlet ibis also as he was the one who buried it. This unique link between the scarlet ibis and Doodle makes Doodle resembles the bird in every way, foreshadowing that Doodle will suffer the same fate as the scarlet ibis which is death.

       James Hurst used the skills of mood, allusion and symbolism to foreshadow Doodle’s death. By constructing a mood of death and sadness and then introduce Doodle at that point, linking him with Jesus and using the scarlet ibis as a symbolism of Doodle, all these perfected the process of foreshadowing and prepare readers for the eventual death of Doodle.

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