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Dangerous Emotions Essay

991 words - 4 pages

Human emotions incite complex reactions that are often difficult to control. Even feelings that seem conventional or puerile have the ability to transform an ordinary situation into a treacherous one. In The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst, Brother struggles with humiliation towards his younger, crippled brother, Doodle. After teaching Doodle to walk, his pride impels him to help Doodle acquire other skills he needs to function in society. However, when his pride becomes blinding, Brother forces Doodle beyond his limits and is forced to accept the consequences. Though loved by his brother, Doodle becomes an innocent victim of selfishness and pride. The bitter seed of shame that blossoms into the flower of pride strangles discernment and results in absolute inability to accept defeat.
Brother was ashamed of Doodle immediately following his birth. “It was bad enough having an invalid brother, but having one who possibly was not all there was unbearable, so I began to make plans to kill him by smothering him with a pillow.” (345). Before he even knew Doodle, Brother was unable to accept his limitations, both physical and mental. Brother does not believe that he can truly be proud of himself if Doodle is disabled. As a result, Brother desperately attempts to teach Doodle to row, climb vines, and swim before they begin school. “Aw, come on, Doodle,” I urged. “You can do it. Do you want to be different from everybody else when you start school?” “Does it make any difference?” “It certainly does,” I said.” (350) Through his inquiry of Doodle’s skills, Brother is inferring that he does not want Doodle to be different. When Doodle asks for affirmation of Brother’s love despite his failure at the physical tasks, Brother essentially tells Doodle that his self-worth is conditional upon his ability to achieve the tasks set before him. Unable to accept Doodle’s condition, Brother attempts to create a sense of normalcy within Doodle’s life. Brother’s controlling nature becomes dangerous when his sense of accomplishment becomes dependent on Doodle’s success as well.
Brother’s shame at having a disabled brother went through an intricate transformation in which Brother took it upon himself to teach Doodle to walk. Though this seems noble, Brother’s motives were not. As the story unfolds, Brother became obsessed with teaching Doodle to walk so that he would no longer have to pull Doodle in his cart, a purely selfish reason that did not consider Doodle or his well-being. “It seemed so hopeless from the beginning that it’s a miracle I didn’t give up. But all of us must have something or someone to be proud of, and Doodle had become mine.I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death” (347). Although Brother and Doodle did share many moments of love and kinship, Brother’s love was ultimately hinged upon Doodle’s attempts to...

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