The reader meets the narrator's family. We learn that the narrator's baby brother William Arstrong, who is later renamed Doodle, was born with several disabilities.
Doodle's disabilities prevent him from preforming every day things. The narrator is ashamed of him and is unable to accept his brother's challenges.
Wanting his brother to be normal, the narrator begins to train him in hopes of him being able to walk and other "normal" things. One day, Doodle shows his parents how he can walk. At the same time, they discover a red scarlet ibis had fallen dead in their yard. Doodle mourns his death and is a lot more sad about it then the rest of the family.
During one of their days of training, Doodle tells the narrator how he is exhausted. This upsets the narrator and they begin to go home. A thunderstorm comes in and Doodle can't keep up with the narrator and says "Brother, don't leave me."
The narrator goes back to find his brother but ultimately finds him dead under the tree.
The narrator blames himself for the death of his brother, Doodle.