When Doodle is born, most people believe that he will not survive very long, and so his parents have a small coffin made for him. Although he ultimately lives to outgrow this coffin, it serves as a reminder of how no one had expected anything of him, and therefore symbolizes the assumptions society makes about those with disabilities. When Doodle survives several months and then years, the coffin is not thrown away, but is instead stored in the loft in their barn, where it continues to serve as a ghostly reminder that no one believed that Doodle would survive. When Doodle is older, Brother shows him the coffin and forces him to touch it, foreshadowing how Brother eventually provokes Doodle’s premature death.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Coffin appears in The Scarlet Ibis. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Scarlet Ibis