Short Stories—Scarlet ibis

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Discussion of the short story "Scarlet Ibis"

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  • When I was five years old, I was expected to die at home from heart valve damage due to rheumatic fever. I required years to recover from the heart disease and could not sit upright or walk for some time. My brother, who was six years older, was embarrassed by me, a burden. My brother has never gotten over the guilt of some minor cruelties and one poorly conceived murder attempt. At the time this story was published I was still in a sickbed, a frail housebound skeleton. Reading this assignment in middle school was a horror for me. It is quite a powerful story. I turned sixty this year, still love my brother and am just happy to be here.
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Short Stories—Scarlet ibis

  1. 1. The Scarlet Ibis Page 257
  2. 2. Focus: <ul><li>Can you imagine what it would feel like to be embarrased by or ashamed of someone you care about? </li></ul><ul><li>How might it feel to know that a close friend or family member felt embarrassed around you? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Background <ul><li>The author, James Hurst, may have drawn inspiration for the setting of “The Scarlet Ibis” from his childhood home in North Carolina. Manly of the lush flowers and plants he describes in the story grew on his farm. As a child, he even gained firsthand knowledge of hurricanes! </li></ul><ul><li>This taught him about “tenacity” or courage and perseverance — which is one of the things he said this story is all about. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Vocabulary <ul><li>careen — v. to tilt or sway while moving, as if out of control; p. 259 </li></ul><ul><li>“ We’d run with him across the ends of the cotton rows and careen him around the corners on two wheels. ” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Vocabulary <ul><li>serene — adj. calm; peaceful; undisturbed; p. 262 </li></ul><ul><li>“… t he picture he painted was so beautiful and serene that all I could do was whisper Yes, yes. ” </li></ul>
  6. 6. Vocabulary <ul><li>blighted — adj. damaged or spoiled; p. 264 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The summer of 1918 was blighted . In May and Jlune there was no rain and the crops withered, curled up, then died under the thirsty sun. ” </li></ul>
  7. 7. Vocabulary <ul><li>doggedness — n. steady persistence; stubbornness; a stick-to-it attitude; p. 264 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The excitement of our program had now been gone for weeks, but still we kept on with tired doggedness . ” </li></ul>
  8. 8. Vocabulary <ul><li>reiterate — v. to say or do again; repeat; p. 265 </li></ul><ul><li>“ I did,” declared doodle. </li></ul><ul><li>“ He didn’t,” I said contrarily. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I certainly did,” Doodle reiterated , scowling at me . ” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Vocabulary <ul><li>precariously — adv. Dangerously; insecurely; p. 265 </li></ul><ul><li>“ On the topmost branch a bird the size of a chicken, with scarlet feathers and long legs, was perched precariously.” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Figurative Language <ul><li>Simile — comparison of two things using the words “l i ke ” or “as.” </li></ul><ul><li>The stars shone like a sprinkle of diamonds. </li></ul><ul><li>His forehead was hot as a stovetop. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Figurative Language <ul><li>Metaphor — applying a word or phrase to something or somebody that’s not meant literally, but to make a comparison. </li></ul><ul><li>Sam is a real snake in the grass . </li></ul><ul><li>It was too late to turn back, for we had both wandered too far into a net of expectations and had left no crumbs behind . </li></ul>
  12. 12. As You Read <ul><li>Look for metaphors . </li></ul><ul><li>Look for similes . </li></ul><ul><li>Look for the way in which the setting might be considered a character in the story. </li></ul><ul><li>Look for symbolism — representing an abstract idea with something concrete </li></ul>

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