Literary Elements in the Scarlet Ibis

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Setting reflects changes in tone
In “The Scarlet Ibis,” James Hurst uses the aspect of nature in the settings to reflect when the tone transposes from a sorrowful and regretful tone to a more hopeful and joyous tone. Brother reminisces of a summer that has long since passed, as he sits in the house he was raised in: “It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead, but autumn had not yet been born, that the ibis lit in the bleeding tree. The flower garden was strained with rotting brown magnolia petals andiron weeds grew rank amid the purple phlox. The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking softly the names of our dead.” With this, the author uses the natural scenery of a dying garden in the transition of seasons to set a tone of sadness. He illustrates a garden with rotting flowers, a graveyard’s last flowers blossoming and their smell being carried to where Brother is, reminding him of the dead. Hurst uses the natural elements in the setting to paint a gloomy and dismal setting, he could have expressed what he saw and smelled from his garden in many ways, yet he chose to depict this garden dying. Furthermore, this was done to indicate the tone in this memory, which is one of sadness. Moreover, just as the author uses dying settings to reflect a sorrowful and dreary tone, he also uses beautiful settings to reflect a joyous and hopeful tone. Brother describes his and Doodle’s time shared in Old Women Swamp, a place he refers to as the only beauty he knows: “I would gather wildflowers, wild violets, honeysuckle, yellow jasmine, snakeflowers, and waterlilies, and with wire grass we’d weave them into necklaces and crowns. We’d bedeck ourselves with our handiwork and loll about thus beautified, beyond the touch of the everyday world.” Furthermore, Old Women Swamp is a place found beautiful to both Doodle and Brother, a place where they go to play and relax. Almost all of...
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