The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst has a very melancholy and regretful tone at times. Sometimes you do get a lighter tone that’s happier. Several things really make you get a sense of the tone in the story. These things are diction, imagery, and syntax.
From the very first paragraph, the imagery in the story really gives you the melancholy feeling of death and sadness. The “rotting brown magnolia petals” and the “graveyard flowers” that spoke “softly the names of our dead” paint a vivid picture in your head of death. In this story a lot of things are connected with the color red. This red image always seems to symbolize death or sadness. The bird that died- the scarlet Ibis- was a red bird and Doodle, who was thought to die soon after birth, was connected with the color red at his birth and his death. At times the tone seems to be more fresh and happy, like the images of Doodle walking, but even this happy moment is brought to gloom when Aunt Nicey steps on Brother’s toe. He thinks he is going to be “crippled for life.” The image at the end of the story helps you get the feeling of regret. Brother was crying and sheltering Doodle from the rain.
Diction is another thing that really helps the reader understand the tone. Hurst’s choice of words definitely creates a sense of grief and sadness. The words “bleeding” and “stained” give you a sense of sympathy for Doodle. To help set the melancholy tone in the beginning of the story, words like rank, rotting, and strained are used. These words give a negative connotation and make you feel sad and gloomy. To lighten the tone words like beautiful and serene are used to describe Doodle’s view of what their life in the future will be like.
Syntax is the third thing that helps the reader feel the tone of the story. Hurst uses many similes and metaphors to create the tone. He says “promise hung about us like leaves” and “like a pot of gold” which both give us more a sense of happiness and...
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