Themes and Symbolism in "The Scarlet Ibis"

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Scarlet Ibis


The Scarlet Ibis Symbolism & Themes

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Activity Overview


Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to grasp without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.


Themes, Motifs, and Imagery to Look For & Discuss

Pride

The theme of pride is related through the narrator's dialogue. Some important passages are: “There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction…”; “All of us must have something to be proud of”; “Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life, and death.” These phrases shows the reader how pride is double edged. It teaches Doodle to walk for the narrator's selfish reasons, but it is also the indirect cause of Doodle's death.


The Scarlet Ibis

A symbol stands in for something else. In this story, the scarlet ibis represents Doodle. Like the ibis, Doodle was born and maintained a reddish hue. The color red is a universal symbol that can mean anger, love, danger, or warning. In the story, the color represents a warning of the death that will come.

The death of the bird and the death of Doodle mirror each other: the bird’s legs and neck are positioned like Doodle's body; they are both found underneath a tree or bush that references red in its name; both are lost in a storm.

The ibis also symbolizes rarity; it had traveled a long way, it was out of its element, and it was not meant to survive, much like Doodle. When Doodle fervently buries the bird, the imagery suggested that Doodle has a deep connection with the bird. Its rarity, coupled with the color red, suggests that their fates were connected.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in “The Scarlet Ibis”. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Identify the theme(s) from “The Scarlet Ibis” you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  2. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  3. Write a description of each of the examples.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme

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